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Full text of "Life of Charles Henry Davis, Rear Admiral, 1807-1877"

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I • •- 









• • • . 

• • • • 



'IfiTro-a^d.^uS . 



4^'^ 



iS.ff 



LIFE OF 
CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

KEAB ADMIRAL 

1807-1877 

BY HIS SON 

CAPTAIN CHAKLBS H. DAVIS, U. S. N. 



BOSTON jUn> NEW TORK 
HODQHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

1899 






t':a' 



COPYRIGHT, 18991 BY CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

L- r> > » ^ M » •■•»...» ■ . 



• • • • •• • • 

• •• • • • • • •• 

• • • • .•• .•,••• • • • * *• 

••••••••••••• • •• . 

••• • •• • ••• • ••••••••• 



CONTENTS 



ORAPm FAOI 

I. Birth akd Antecedents — Midbhipbcan — The Frigate 

United States 1 

n. Cruise of the Schooner Dolphin 12 

III. The Dolphin — The United States — The Erie — 

Examination 39 

lY. Sailinq-Master and Lieutenant — The Ontario — 

The Vincennes and Vermont — The Independence 53 

v. The Coast Survey and the Nautical Almanac . . 74 

VI. Commander — Various Duties — The Saint Mary's . 94 

Vn. The Navy Department in 1861 114 

Vm. Washington in 1861 141 

IX. The Port Royal Expedition 158 

X. Port Royal — Continued 190 

XI. Fort Pillow and Memphis 216 

XII. ViCXSBURO AND THE RaM ARKANSAS 254 

XIII. The Bureau of Navigation 283 

XIV. The Brazil Station and Paraguay 315 

XV. Conclusion 331 

Index 339 






LIFE OF CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 



CHAPTER I 

BIBTH AND ANTECEDENTS — MID8HIPMAK — THE FBI6ATE 

UNITED STATES 

Ijf an excuse be needed for a life of Admiral Davis 
twenty years after his deaths it may^ perhaps, be found 
in the interest which now attaches, after the lapse of a 
generation of time, to the period of the civil war, and 
to even the most trivial circumstances connected with 
tiiat momentous struggle. This interest wiU increase 
^th the disappearance of the active participants in the 
inir, so that the intimate biography of an officer who 
rose to inonediate distinctionrand who conunanded in 
chief in the only general naval engagements fought 
during the whole four years of the war, cannot be con- 
sidered, even now, as out of place, and may become in 
the future of real historical value. So much of this 
work as bears upon the period of the war is a mere 
transcription of the admiral's private letters written at 
the time, with such notes as are necessary to give an 
appearance of continuity to a desultory private corre- 
spondence written for family perusal and with no idea 
of its publication. No attempt has been made to enter 
into a historical review of even those operations of the 



2 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

war in which the admiral was actively engaged. The 
letters may be regarded rather as a possible material for 
history than as history itself ; but I believe that they 
wiU serve to throw some light on events, and are in 
themselves sufficiently interesting for publication. 

Admiral Davis's claim to distinction does not rest on 
his achievements during the civil war alone. He came 
forward at the beerinnine of the war because he was 
already kno^. ^repLtion ^ enough to lift him 
at on^ from a position of official obsc^ty> and the 
.ork put upon hL rais^i him to the high^ rank as 
soon as the grade of adnural was created. The vote of 
thanks and the rear admiral's commission came within 
less than two years of the beginning of the war. 
He served throughout the whole four years in positions 
of the highest responsibility in the field of action and 
in the council, and it was not until the end of the war 
that he returned to the labors which were most con- 
genial to him ; but he was all his life a student and a 
man of science. It was his previous work on the Coast 
Survey, and his intimate acquaintance with the hydro- 
graphy of the coast, which enabled him to buoy out 
the channel for Du Font's victorious fleet at Port 
BoyaL In the midst of his war's duties the influence 
which had been acquired by success in battie was 
directed toward the foundation of a national academy 
of sciences, and he died in harness at the head of one 
of the great scientific establishments of the govern- 
ment. 

The family of Davis was settled in New England as 
early as 1630. The admiral's direct ancestor was a 



» . 



." * 






... • M* *" * .ho • » 



BIRTH AND ANTECEDENTS 8 

freeman of Barnstable in 1638^ and here the family 
remained for four generations, intermarrying ^th the 
English of New England, so that the admiral was of 
purely English and New England Puritan descent. 
The family probably came from Northamptonshire. 
The admiral's grandfather was a magistrate and lead- 
ing citizen of Barnstable. He lived to be eighty-six 
years of age, highly respected in the community, and 
held the office of judge of common pleas, the first in 
Barnstable Couniy. He married twice and left a 
numerous progeny by his first wife, but by the second 
wife, who was also his second cousin and a descendant 
of Captain John Davis of the Indian wars, he had only 
one son, Daniel, the admiral's father. Daniel Davis 
was a lawyer and eminent at the Massachusetts bar. 
He settled first at Portland, then Falmouth in ' the 
Province of Maine, moved to Boston in 1800, and was 
for thirty years solicitor-general of the State of Massa- 
chusetts. He built the house on Somerset Street now 
occupied by the New England Historic*Genealogical 
Society. He married Lois, daughter of Constant Free- 
man, whose brother, the Rev. James Freeman, was rector 
of King's Chapel and the first Unitarian minister in 
New England. James Freeman established the liturgy 
now in use, and when he proffered his resignation 
on account of his change of views, the congregation 
adopted the reformed ritual and retained him as its 
pastor. He was ordained by his own wardens and 
people by a peculiar service ; the first Episcopal Church 
in New England became the first Unitarian Church in 
America, and James Freeman remained at its head for 



4 CHAKLES HENRY DAVIS 

forty-eight years. Another brother of Lois^ Constant 
Freeman, served in the army through the war of the 
Revolution. He was lieutenant in Ejiox's Artillery in 
1776, captain-lieutenant in Crane's Artillery in 1778, 
and was offered a captaincy in the United States In- 
fantry in 1791, but declined. He was conmiissioned 
major of the First Regiment of Artillery and Engineers 
in 1795, lieutenant-colonel of the First Artillery in 1802, 
and was brevetted colonel in 1812. He was mustered 
out on the reduction of the army in 1815, and became 
accountant of the Navy Department and Fourth Audi- 
tor of the Treasury, which office he held until his death 
in 1824. He occupied the old house still standing on 
the S. E. comer of F and Twenty-first streets. He was 
childless, and his paternal affections were centred on 
his nephew. 

Charles Henry Davis, the subject of this memoir, was 
bom in the house on Somerset Street, Boston, January 
16, 1807. He was the youngest of thirteen children, 
of whom the oldest, Louisa, married William Minot, of 
Boston, and her descendants still live in Boston and 
its suburbs. None of the others of this numerous 
family, except the yoimgest, are represented by de- 
scendants in the present generation. Charles Henry 
Davis was educated at the Boston Latin School, entered 
Harvard College in 1821, and remained through the 
Freshman and Sophomore years, and although he did 
not graduate, he took his degree in 1841, and his 
name stands in the triennial catalogue as amemberof 
the class of 1825. 

In the summer of 1823, mainly through the influ- 



MIDSHIPMAK 5 

ence of his uncle Constant Freeman, and also perhaps 
through the help of Commodore Isaac Hull who was a 
friend of his father's, he was appointed a midshipman in 
the United States Navy, and gave up his college career 
to enter upon the active duties of the naval profession. 
There was no national naval school in those days. Mid- 
shipmen when first appointed received only an acting 
warrant but went immediately to sea, and their first 
cruise was considered as a period of probation. The 
warrant, when received, was dated back to the original 
acting appointment, and after a certain period of ser- 
vice midshipmen were entitled to an examination which 
fixed their status in the service and confirmed the claim 
to a lieutenant's commission. The midshipman's future 
in the «rvu» dq«.ded ujKm hi, o™ di%,oe, mi .r&. 
tude, for the final examination was a severe one, and 
there was no regular system of^struction on board 
ship. A young officer picked up his professional edu* 
cation as best he could in the active experience of ser- 
vice afloat. The whole scheme of naval education in 
those days was totally at variance with the plan pur- 
sued at present. The two systems do not admit of 
comparison. The old plan would not work now, be- 
cause naval education is too complex and intricate for 
such extremely simple methods, but it worked then, and 
the very high standard attained by the representatives 
of the old navy is sufficient evidence of the thorough- 
ness of the training. Midshipmen then were the sons 
of gentlemen, using that word not in any invidious sense^ 
but as it was generally understood in the year 1823, 
and the rudiments of a primary education were not 



^ CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

necessary after their entrance into the service. They 
had that already. They began at once to leam their 
profession^ and they began to leam it at once in the 
school in which, even at this day, it can only be learned 
successfully, — active service afloat. The school was 
an extremely rough and severe one, in which the weak- 
est went to the wall, and only the fittest survived, but 
it had one great advantage over the modern method, in 
inculcating from the very beginning the habit of self- 
reliance under responsibility. As will be seen later, 
Davis, at the age of eighteen, and when only two years 
in the service, ^ performing responsible duties on 
board of a ship on detached and hazardous service in 
an ocean hardly known to navigators, and very inade- 
quately charted ; so that the lives and safety of the 
whole crew and of the ship were committed to his 
charge during his watches on deck. Such an expe- 
rience, which reads like a romance now, was of incal- 
culable value in forming his official character, and it 
is not too much to say that the effects of this early 
training in responsibiliiy were visible throughout his 
career, which was marked, in common with that of 
many of his contemporaries, by a trait which is almost 
non-existent in the modem service, and which was a 
logical result of his education. The masters in this 
school were the men who had brought our infant navy 
with high credit through a war with the greatest naval 
power on earth, and if the school was a rough one, and 
the requirements for advancement were few, as judged 
by the modem standard, the quality of result is beyond 
question. The civil war showed what stuff was in the 



THE FRIGATE UNITED STATES 7 

old navy. With that careless disregard for the past 
and ignorance of anything that has occurred earlier 
than day before yesterday which is a characteristic 
of an ephemeral literature, it has been customary for 
recent writers to allude to the naval commanders of 
the civil war as graduates of the Naval Academy. The 
Naval Academy was founded in 1845, and not one of 
the officers who reached distinction in the civil war 
ever saw its walls, or received any other training than 
that which his own zeal and diligence had supplied. 
Those of their contemporaries, many in number, who 
failed in the race and fell by the way have been long 
since forgotten. 

Davis left his home in Boston in October, 1823, to 
join the frigate United States at Norfolk, fitting for 
the broad pennant of Commodore Isaac Hull, appointed 
to command the Pacific squadron. He performed the 
journey by water, and for a mondi after his arrival at 
the Norfolk yard was quartered on board the d^em^e, 
stationary receiving ship, as the United States was 
under the sheers. She was commissioned on the 19th 
of November, and the following day dropped down to 
the anchorage at Town Point, and in another week was 
towed into Hampton Boads, where the final work of 
completing the outfit was performed, and on January 5, 
1824, she weighed and stood out to sea, bound round 
Cape Horn. 

On the passage out, the United States touched at 
Rio de Janeiro, remaining only a few days, and reached 
Valparaiso on March 27th. This was a good passage, 
and, in fact, the United States was a good sailer, as 



8 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

she afterwards proved dming the oruise, and especially 
on her passage home in 1827.^ She was one of the 
first ships in the navy fitted with chain cables, of which 
older seamen were still distmstfuL It is noted that 
the ship was moored at Bio de Janeiro, and again at 
Valparaiso, with a chain cable to one anchor and a 
hemp cable to the other. 

By the time Oommodore Hull reached Valparaiso, 
the Chilian independence was acknowledged, and hos^ 
tilities in that country had ceased; but the war was still 
in progress in Peru, Oallao being held by the Spaniards 
and loosely blockaded by a Peruvian fleet. The United 
StateSy therefore, proceeded at once to Peru, and at 
Callao fell in with the Franklin^ 74, Commodore Charles 
Stewart, who was relieved by Commodore Hull, and 
sailed for home. The vessels composing the squadron 
were, besides the flagship, the Vmcennes and PeacocJcj 
sloops, the Dolpkifiy schooner, and several chartered 
vessels. Service on board the flagship was uninterest: 
ing for the most part, the squadron being confined to 
Callao and Chorillos during the progress of the war, 
and being forced to maintain a strict neutrality in rela- 
tion to the belligerents, while hostilities dragged on 
with no great event or stirring incident to reUeve the 
monotony of life on board ship. 

Among the officers of the United States besides the 
commodore, who was perhaps the most distinguished 

^ Prior to the war of 1812, the United States^ which was one of the 
frigates of 17d7, had been called ** the old wagon," on account of her dull- 
ness as a sailer. Her qualities were greatlj improyed by change of 
trim. 



THE FRIGATE UNITED STATES 9 

of the frigate captains of 1812, were several whose 
names deserve mention on account of their subsequent 
career in the service, and their long friendship with 
the subject of this memoir. The first lieutenant was 
John Percival, who had distinguished himself in the 
war with England by great personal bravery and dash. 
He was a gallant and efficient officer, but a person of 
eccentric character. His career in the service was long 
(he died a post captain in 1861), and his name was con- 
nected with many old sea stories, until it passed into 
what may be called the mythical folk-lore of the service, 
— stories of which he was the hero, gaining in incredi- 
bility by repetition from one generation of naval officers 
to another, until finally lost in the sudden transition to 
what is now called the new navy, and the total aban- 
donment of early tradition as so much useless lumber. 
The rising generation of the navy has never heard of 
Mad Jack Percival and his escapades, desperate and 
comic ; but thirty years ago no name was better known 
or oftener cited in wardroom mess talk. Davis was 
destined to be closely associated with him, and to serve 
under his immediate command for nearly two years. 

Hiram Paulding was another of the lieutenants of 
the United States. He had a long and distinguished 
career in the service, beginning with Lake Champlain, 
where he served as midshipman and acting lieutenant 
under McDonough.^ He retired with the rank of rear 
admiral in 1862 ; and during the whole of the civil 
war, although his age precluded his active employment 
afloat, he commanded the navy yard and station at New 

^ He was a son of John Paulding, one of Andre's oapton. 



10 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

York^ and rendered most important service in the oner- 
ous and responsible duties connected "with that great 
naval depot. He was greatly beloved in the service, 
and left an honored name. Among the midshipmen 
who afterwards reached flag rank were Thomas T. 
Craven and Henry Ejiox Thatcher. Andrew Hull 
Foote was a midshipman on board the Peacock, and 
was later transferred to the flagship, and came home in 
her. He was of the date of 1822, and had already 
made a cruise in the West Indies. 

Attached to the squadron was the Dolphin, top- 
sail schooner, of 180 tons burden and 12 guns, which 
vessel was tender to the flagship, and was officered 
and manned by a draft from that vessel. It would be 
difficult to form a conception of what the Dolphin was 
like by comparison with any existing type, as her class 
has long since disappeared, and cannot be compared 
with the modem schooner. She was a mere cock-boat 
alongside of the frigate, and her guns were nothing 
but six-pounders; but, notwithstanding her smallness 
and the insignificance of her armament, she made an 
interesting cruise of many thousands of miles among 
the remote, and at that time almost unknown, islands 
of the Pacific Ocean, and carried the flag where it had 
never been seen before on board a government vessel, 
and where it has since made some figure in the history 
of the world. Almost immediately after the arrival of 
the United States at Callao, Lieutenant Percival was 
appointed to command the Dolphin, and on August 
31, 1824, Davis was also assigned to her. A year 
later, before she separated from the squadron for a 



THE FRIGATE UNITED STATES 11 

long and independent cruise, Lieutenant Paulding and 
several more midshipmen joined her. Among these 
was Charles H. McBlair, who had been, from the 
first days on board the GuerrQre, an intimate of 
Davis's. Their friendship lasted until the breaking 
out of the civil war, and was resumed in after years. 
McBlair, who was from Maryland, made the mistake 
of resigning from the navy in confident anticipation of 
the secession of his State. He held a commission in 
the Confederate service, and after the close of the war 
he was for some time adjutant-general of the State of 
Maryland. He died in Washington, where he had 
settled in 1874, in November, 1890, and during the 
last few years of Davis's life much of the old intimacy 
had revived. They had been inseparable companions 
in early life. 

Of all the officers of the Dolphin^ Davis was the 
junior in years and rank when the ship sailed on her 
long voyage to the Western Pacific. 



CHAPTER n 

OBXJIBB OF THE SOHOONEB DOLPHIN 

In the year 1824, the crew of the whaleship Glohey 
of Nantucket, matimed in the Pacific Ocean, in latitude 
about eight degrees south, longitude one hundred and 
sixty degrees west, murdered the officers, and carried 
the ship to the Mulgrave Islands, where it was proposed 
by the chief mutineer, a man named Comstock, to 
bum her and form a settlement. Here a great part of 
the stores, the spare sails and rigging, and the boats 
were landed ; but some members of the crew who had 
taken no part in the mutiny, taking advantage of being 
together on board the ship while the others were on 
shore, dropped the foresail and cut the cables just at 
the dusk of evening, and, making sail, stood out to sea 
with a fair wind. 

The mutineers pursued the ship in the boats, as 
soon as they discovered that she was under way ; but 
finding that she gamed rapidly on them while it was 
fast growing dark, they abandoned the chase and re- 
turned to the shore.^ The nautical instruments of 
every description had been teken on shore by the muti- 

^ Nanratioe of the Mutmy of the Olohe and (he CruUe of (he Dolphm in 
search of (he Mutineers. By Lientenant Hiram Faalding. New York, 
1831. The official log-book of the schooner Dclphm. 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 13 

neers, so that the people on board the Oldbe were left 
to traverse a vast ocean studded with unknown dangers, 
without a chart, and with no other guide to direct their 
course than the stars and the prevailing winds. The 
Mulgrave Islands are situated in north latitude six 
degrees, east longitude one hundred and seventy-three 
degrees ; and, although the passage of the Glohe was 
necessarily very long, she finally reached Valparaiso in 
safety, and the American consul at that port was in- 
formed of the events which had transpired. As the 
war of independence was still in progress in Peru, 
American commerce and interests on the West Coast 
required the attention of the whole naval force then 
on the station, and no measures could be taken to 
bring the mutineers to account for their crimes until 
some time after the return of the Glohe to the United 
States. In the following year, however. Commodore 
Hull was able to dispatch the Dolphin to search for 
the mutineers, who it was supposed would still be found 
where the Olohe had left them, — at the Mulgrave 
Islands. Accordingly the Dolphin sailed from Choril- 
los on the 18th of August, 1825, and proceeded along 
the coast as far north as Payta, touching at several of 
the smaller ports, and purchasing such stores in each 
as the place afforded. From Payta she sailed for the 
Gallapagos Islands, where an abundant supply of turtles, 
both the land turtle of the island and the common sea 
turtle, was laid in. These creatures were kept alive, 
and were served out regularly to the crew as long as 
the stock lasted, instead of the ordinary allowance of 
salt provisions ; proving not only a wholesome substi- 



14 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

tute for the common sea diet, but a means of preserving 
the stores which it woold be impossible to replenish 
among the islands. Sixteen days after leaving the 
Gallapagos^ the Marquesas Islands were sighted^ and 
the Dolphin stood in^ and dose alongshore^ where 
^^ beautiful litde valleys were presented to view in quick 
succession, with villages of palm-thatched cottages em- 
bowered in groves of cocoanut and bread-fruit trees, 
forming scenes of rural quiet calculated to fill the im- 
agination with the most agreeable conceptions of the 
happy condition of the inhabitants/' The Dolphin 
anchored at Nukahiva, in Comptroller's Bay. 

At this time the Marquesas Islands were in an almost 
primitive state of savagery, being visited only occasion- 
ally for refreshment by whaleships, and but one mission- 
ary had ever visited the islands for a short time, and had 
made no impression on the people. The natives were 
not wholly unaccustomed to the sight of ships and 
theb crews of white men, but they still retained their 
primitive customs, and were uncontaminated by con- 
tact with civilization. A war was raging between the 
rival tribes of Typees and Happahs, which inhabited 
opposite shores of the bay, and the people of both fac- 
tions visited the ship, and were eager to obtain firearms 
in exchange for provisions and native manufactures of 
grass-doth and weapons. The use of firearms was 
fully understood by these people, and a chief's impor- 
tance depended on the number of muskets, kegs of 
powder, and flints which he possessed. The Dolphin 
also visited Massachusetts Bay, which was the scene of 
Commodore Porter's visit when refitting the Essex. 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 16 

Here Commodore Porter had built a fort and estab- 
lished a navy yard ; but in ihe short interval that had 
elapsed all traces of his works were obUterated by the 
luxuriant growth of tropical vegetation, and no ves- 
tiges of former occupation could be discovered* At 
Massachusetts Bay the ship was watered, and Lieu- 
tenant Paulding planted a quantiiy of fruit and vege- 
table seeds which had been brought from Peru, with 
the hope that their growth might prove a benefit to 
futare na^tors. The natives .rillingly assisted in 
this operation. 

The Dolphin sailed from the Marquesas Islands on 
the 5th of October. The course now before her car- 
ried the schooner away from all the civilized world; 
and the islands in her way afforded little to tempt the 
navigators to visit them, being known only as places 
existing on the wide surface of the ocean, where, with 
few exceptions, the inhabitants had never seen the face 
of a white man. On the 10th, Caroline Island was 
sighted, and ^eJDolphin stood close in, under the lee 
of the coral reef, in hopes of finding an anchorage; 
but the deep water reached to within a few feet of the 
reef itself. However, a small hedge was taken to the 
coral bank, by which the ship rode to the easterly trade- 
wind, and a party landed on the reef to fish, finding 
fish plentiful in the holes and clefts of the reef, and 
easily taken with boarding-pikes and boat-hooks. At 
low water, when the party landed, the coral bank was 
nearly dry ; but they were overtaken by the rising tide, 
which made it dif&cult and even dangerous to retrace 
their steps to the edge of the bank, the holes in the 



16 CHAKLES HENBY DAVIS 

reef being hidden nnder water. What made the sitoa- 
tion of the party more disagreeable was the number of 
sharks which had come in with the tide^ and which 
made dashes at the men as they stood waist deep on 
the reef or floundered in the holes, and had to be kept 
at bay by thrashing and lunging with the boat-hooks 
and pikes. One man, who had a large bunch of fish 
which he trailed through the water, was so closely pur- 
sued and fiercely attacked that he had to take refuge 
on a rock above water until the boat could come in to 
his relief. 

Leaving Caroline Island, the Dolphin visited the 
Duke of Clarence and Duke of York Islands. The 
latter was noted on the chart as uninhabited when dis* 
covered by Commodore Byron in 1791, and the people 
of the Dolphin were therefore not a little surprised, 
on approaching it, to see two canoes put off from the 
shore. But on both of these islands the inhabitants 
were shy and wild, entirely unaccustomed to the sight 
of white men, and treacherous in their intercourse with 
people of the Dolphin. The next island sighted was 
Byron^s Island, on November 9th, where the schooner 
anchored. Here she was soon surrounded by the 
canoes of the savages, which appeared in all directions 
as if by magic. The natives leaped on board with- 
out the slightest hesitation, and the decks were soon 
thronged with naked, shouting savages. They were 
soon detected in thieving, and, being all armed with 
shark's-tooth spears, they walked about the decks with 
a swaggering and aggressive air, and it was not until 
sundown that they were finally got rid of. The next 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 17 

morning, as soon as day dawned, the whole ocean was 
whitened with the little sails of canoes which were seen 
approaching in every direction as far as the eye could 
distinguish so small an object. The scenes of the pre- 
vious day were repeated. Not a word could he under- 
stood for this rabble of savages on deck and about the 
ship ; and when they were pushed out of the way they 
became insolent and resentful. It was finally neces* 
sary to resort to violence to dear the decks, and in the 
skirmish an old athletic chief, whom Captain Percival 
had treated with some distinction, suddenly threw his 
arms about the captain and embraced him with hercu- 
lean strength ; but some of the DolphirCs men passed 
the bight of a rope round the old chiefs neck and 
strangled him until they broke his grasp, and then 
pitched him overboard. A proper show of firmness 
was finally effectual in clearing the ship of savages. 

The islands visited since leaving the Marquesas had 
afforded no refreshment, and it now became necessary 
to water the schooner. An effort was made to land for 
this purpose, but the determined hostility of the natives 
made the attempt fruitless, and only the great coolness 
and tact of Captain Percival saved the boat's crew from 
destruction at the hands of the savages. The natives 
dashed into the water (almost their native element), 
and attempted to drag the boat to land : in the midst 
of the confusion one of them snatched a pistol which 
he struggled violently to carry off, until he was shot 
from the boat and taken into the nearest canoe severely 
wounded. The boat now returned to the ship, and 
preparations were made for getting under way, when one 



18 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

of the natives, numbers of whom were still on board, 
seized a musket with a fixed bayonet and jumping over- 
board with it swam toward the shore keeping under 
water half the time. He was fired at, but he bore his 
booty safely to shore and disappeared in the bushes. 
After this bold theft several boats were manned to 
land again in search of water and, if possible, to re- 
cover the stolen musket. Captain Percival again 
took the lead, and landed on the coral reef with his 
ammunition wet, whilst his boat, in returning through 
the surf, was thrown upon the reef, bilged, and before 
she could be got o£E every timber in her was broken. 
Captain Percival now forbade the other boats to at- 
tempt to land, choosing rather to remain in his defense- 
less situation on the reef, surrounded by hostile savages, 
than to risk the serious consequences of losing the 
remainder of his boats. By signals arranged before 
leaving the ship he directed a fire at intervals from the 
great guns against a large hut on the beach which was 
supposed to belong to the chief. The ignorance of the 
natives as to the real nature of firearms and the awe 
inspired by the discharge of the schooner's six-pounders 
were suf&cient to keep the savages at bay. Finally a 
group of them approached him, one of whom, an old 
man, held a green branch in his hands. The captain 
demanded, by signs, the return of the musket, and the 
old man addressed one of those near him^ who ran off, 
and in about an hour brought back the musket, but 
without lock or bayonet. These were also demanded, 
and the demand emphasized by another discharge of 
the schooner's guns toward the hut. It was not long 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 19 

before the lock was brought, but no threats could in- 
duce them to relinquish the bayonet. The situation of 
Captain Percival and his party was now becoming more 
critical with every moment's delay. They were on a 
bank of coral a hundred yards wide, and small parties 
of savages from the great numbers assembled in the 
bushes that fringed the beach would occasionally sally 
out and throw stones at them ; they had no other means 
of defense than the schooner's guns, which were fired 
whenever an attack was made. The hustle of the shot 
over their heads and the occasional fall of a cocoanut 
tree proved the superiority of these weapons over their 
own, and had, in a measure, the desired effect of keep- 
ing them in check. But although the shot sometimes 
struck very close and threw sand and gravel all over 
them, they were becoming bolder every minute. The 
captain, becoming impatient of his precarious situation 
on the reef, besieged and harassed as he was by the sav- 
ages, made bold to risk an excursion back on the island, 
to show the natives his disregard for them, and at the 
same time to satisfy himself of the existence of water. 
Attended by his boat's crew, who held their pistols in 
readiness, though they were useless as the priming was 
wet, he advanced boldly up the beach, the natives re- 
treating before him. This excursion was fruitless, how- 
ever, the only place where water was found being an 
old well, which was brackish and stagnant. In the 
meantime Lieutenant Paulding, on board the schooner, 
waa fiUedwith aimeiy for the captain and hb party, 
and was relieved, after an hour's delay, to see them 
return to their old place of blockade on the coral bank. 



20 CHARLES HENRT DAVIS 

• 

It was now sundown, and the surf had increased 
80 much that it did not seem possible for a boat to 
reach the reef and return in saf ety, and to send men 
without a prospect of their return would be a useless 
sacrifice of life. But something must be done to get 
the party off before dark, and at this juncture two sea* 
men who were good swimmers came forward and volun- 
teered to take the lightest boat ashore. They landed 
in safety, and the small boat being deeply laden with 
the captain and his party, they dung with one hand to 
the quarter, swimming with the other, until after a 
prolonged and most doubtful struggle the boat emerged 
from the surf and was soon alongside. 

The men of Byron's Island are described as short, 
active, and well-made. They were entirely naked and 
covered with scars, and only a few of them tattooed 
and those only slightly. Their ornaments were rude, 
and worn only by a few, and consisted of shells, and 
beads made of something that looked like whalebone, 
worn in long strings round the neck or waist. Some 
of them wore skull-caps made of grass, or wreaths of 
dry cocoanut fibre. The hair was long, the complexion 
very dark, and the beard thin and curled on the chin 
like a negro's. But few women appeared, and they 
were coarse and almost as robust as the men, and wore 
a small fringed mat about the loins. The canoes of 
these savages were ingeniously made of a great many 
pieces of light wood laced together with cocoanut 
twine. The canoe sails were mats of straw or grass. 

As soon as the captain's party got on board the 
Dolphin made sail, and bade adieu to Byron's Island 



CRUISE OP THE SCHOONEB DOLPHIN 21 

and its inhabitants, whose acquaintance had been pro- 
ductive of Utile but perplexity and anxiety, and running • 
a course west by south, in four hours Drummond's 
Island hove in sight ahead, distant four leagues. This 
island was found to be swarming with people, who at 
first exhibited more timidity than those of any of the 
islands yet visited. But they soon became bolder, and 
the scenes of Byron's Island were repeated, the savages 
yifliting Ae ship in swanns and stealing whatever they 
could lay their hands on. All hope of watering here 
had to be abandoned, and the Dolphin made sail again 
and shaped a course for the Mulg^aves. 

The Mulgrave Islands are the southernmost g^oup of 
the Radack chain of the Marshall archipelago, and form 
a circular or nearly circular group of coral islets. Their 
extent has, even to this day, not been well determined, 
but the surrounding reefs have been examined for forty 
miles, and only one passage for boats and one for ships 
found to exist. Some of the islands are mere coral 
rocks, submerged at high tide, but nearly all have deep 
water close to the reefs. When the reef reaches above 
the level of the sea it becomes covered with sand and 
vegetation forms, and some of the islands are of con- 
siderable size, and covered with cocoanut and bread- 
fruit trees. The passage from Drummond's to the 
Mulgrave Islands was nine days, and on November 
19th the Dolphin anchored on a lee shore within less 
than a cable's length of the surf, at the easternmost of 
the islands. ' 

The inhabitants here were of a different character 
from those of Byron's and Drummond's islands, and 



22 CHABLES HEKRT DAVIS 

weie hoqntable and friendty. The Bchoooeriras watered 
hae, and an immediate search b^;an for the mntineen 
of the Globe. A -whalers lanoe and some pieces of 
canTSS weie found among the natiTes, who were sensibfy 
alanned hj the thorong^iness of the search and tl^ 
questions pot to them conoeming the Globe. It was 
therefore determined to continoe the search from island 
to island along the entire chain to the sonthward and 
westward^ for it must be understood that CSaptain Per^ 
eival did not know that the chain was circular in f orm, 
nor of the existence of the inland sea or lagoon, until 
he discovered diese facts for himself in his progresfflve 
search. Accordingly the schooner, after several days' 
delay at the first anchorage, got under way and coasted 
along the land from island to island, keeping in com- 
pany with file searching parties, which followed the 
course of the ship, and explored each island in succes- 
sion. Some of these islands were sparsely inhabited ; 
in others the population was more dense; and the 
natives were sometimes timid and shy and sometimes 
friendly, but never openly hostile. At one island a 
native came on board in a canoe, and as he was the 
only person who visited the ship, it was suspected that 
he came as a spy, a suspicion which was verified in the 
event, although, at the time, these people seemed too 
simple to adopt such an expedient of civilization. 

After examining several of the islands in this man- 
ner, the shore parties reached a spot where numbers of 
the natives were assembled, and where several of their 
large war-canoes were drawn up on the beach, and 
others were seen approaching across the lagoon. As 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 23 

-was afterwards ascertained, this was the high chief of 
all the group, with about a hundred of his chie& and 
warriors on a cruise of observation to satisfy himself as 
to who and what the strangers were who had invaded 
his lonely and unfrequented domain. The chiefs had 
nothing to distinguish them, so that Captain Fercival 
remained in ignorance of their identity, but this gather- 
ing of people, with their canoes, facilitated his search, 
and in fact some lids of seamen's chests, some pieces 
of cloth and ash spars, and some canvas were found 
among them. The natives were watching every look 
and action of the white men, and, notwithstanding their 
affected apathy and indifference, they could not conceal 
the intense excitement which this close examination 
produced among them. Not far from the beach was a 
grove of cocoanut and bread-fruit trees, through which 
was scattered a number of the neat little huts of the 
natives. One of these, near the shore, was frequented 
by a great many of the natives, with whom the Doh 
phin^s people mingled freely. It was about ten feet 
high, and had a sort of garret floored with sticks inter- 
woven with palm leaves. Although most of the huts 
had been examined, it was by good or iU fortune that 
«,. one, wh«e «. .n^y of l!U« ^ «»mbl,d, 
should have escaped search ; for, had this taken place, 
one of the men who were the objects of the search, 
and the cause of the Dolphin's presence at the islands, 
would have been found, and the discovery would prob- 
ably have resulted in the massacre of the shore party, 
which was greatly outnumbered by the savages. Wil- 
liam Lay, one of the crew of the Globe, had been 



24 CHAELES HENBY DAVIS 

broaght to this island by the chiefs, to be used as 
circumstances might suggest, and lay concealed in the 
gairet of this hut, guarded -by a number of old 
women, who had been directed, at the first whisper of 
noise that he made, to put him to death. He there- 
fore lay in this situation, listening for several hours to 
the voices of his countrymen, whose conversation re- 
▼ealed to him the character of the schooner and the 
<object of her voyage. 

At sundown the shore party returned to the ship 
for the night, and the natives, getting into their canoes, 
steered away across the lagoon toward the distant 
islands. The Dolphin stood o£E and on during the 
night, and the next morning anchored near where the 
parties had landed on the previous day. Here there 
was a channel into the lagoon, having nearly enough 
water for the schooner, and an attempt was made to 
warp her through, but had to be abandoned, as the 
water was found to shoal very rapidly on the bar or 
reef. The service had been arduous, as it was judged 
necessary to have strong parties on shore exploring the 
islands, and the remainder of the crew were really in- 
suf&cient to work the vessel and to get her under way, 
which had to be done whenever the wind blew on 
shore, as there was no anchorage beyond half a cable's 
length from the reef. However, the same method of 
search was continued, the shore parties advancing from 
island to island, attended by a boat to carry them over 
the drowned ree&, and armed and provisioned to 
remain on shore, the schooner keeping abreast under 
saU, or anchoring in advance. In this manner the 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 26 

search continaed until the souihemmost extremity of 
the g^oup was reached, where the land trended away 
to the northward and westward. The discoveries were 
few and unimportant up to this point, and the search 
had abready continued nearly a week, when the shore 
party, which was commanded hy the second lieutenant, 
crossed a long reef which connected the southernmost 
island with the next to the westward, which had the 
appearance of being thickly settled from the number 
of cocoanut and bread-fruit trees, as the savages in- 
variably build their huts in these groves. Soon after 
crossing the reef, and at the eastern extremity of the 
island, where the land was narrow and sandy, they came 
suddenly upon a place which was strewn with the staves 
of beef and pork barrels, pieces of canvas, clothing, 
and a general litter of rubbish which marked it as an 
abandoned site of habitation. Proceeding a little fur- 
ther, they found a skeleton, lightly covered with sand, 
and a box containing some Spanish dollars.^ The sav- 
ages, who had been in close attendance on the searching 
party, upon approaching this spot disappeared, or were 
seen skulking through the bushes. Proceeding a mile 
further, they found a deserted hut, in which they en- 
camped for the night. Early in the morning they took 
up their line of march, but had not gone far when it 
became evident that the sav^es were preparing for 
hostilities. They were assembling in great numbers in 
front of the party, armed with spears and stones, and, 

^ The log-book states that this skeleton was supposed to be that of 
Comstock, the chief matineer of the Oldbe* Bat the evidenoe upon which 
this theoij was based does not appear. 



26 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

being vastly more numerous than the seamen, the sec- 
ond lieutenant, who was still in command, decided to 
retreat to the place of encampment of the previous 
night, in which he would be better able to defend him- 
self until he could obtain reinforcements and ammuni- 
tion from the Dolphin. Upon reaching this place 
again, he found that the hut had been destroyed, and 
a large canoe, which had lain on the beach, had disap- 
peared. He had lost sight of the natives, however, 
and, fortifying his party in this place as well as cir^ 
cumstances would permit, he remained here all day, 
sending two of his men to the schooner, which was 
now several mUes distant. A little after midday these 
two arrived on board, and reported the situation of the 
shore party. There was now no doubt that this was 
the place where the mutineers of the Globe had landed, 
but where were they now ? The parties from the ship 
had given the savages no cause for hostility ; on the 
contrarv, the most conciliatory course had been pursued 
in deZg ynih them, and, if Aey had wished to mate 
war, opportunities had frequentlv occurred when the 
jeTcbA*. .dght L.„ bL la«. b, .^rwbdm- 
ing numbers. They had not availed themselves of 
these, and now they were preparing for hostilities at 
the moment of the discovery of the place where the 
mutineers had been. The inference was, that these 
latter were among the savages, and that they had 
aroused the natives to war with the hope of successfully 
resisting arrest. If this surmise were correct, the situ- 
ation of the shore party was critical, and no time was 
to be lost. Accordingly the launch was hoisted out 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 27 

and fitted with all dispatch, and in the afternoon left 
the ship, in command of Lieutenant Panlding, with 
two midshipmen, of whom Davis was one, and eleven 
men, together with the couriers from the second lieuten- 
ant's party, which was all that could be spared from 
the schooner, as a bold attempt on her by a large 
party under an enterprising chief might have placed 
her in great jeopardy. The launch crossed the reef and 
ran down the lagoon to the encampment of the shore 
party, which she reached at eight o'clock in the even- 
ing, finding all safe, but looking for the appearance 
of reUef with great anxiety. From information gained 
by the shore party during the day as to the movements 
of the savages, Lieutenant Paulding determined to 
pursue them in the launch, and he therefore sent the 
second lieutenant and his men back toward the ship, 
and, keeping only his own boat's crew, made sail on 
the launch and stretched away across the lagoon in 
pursuit of the parties of natives which had menaced 
the search party in the morning, and which had gone 
across the lagoon in their canoes. The launch was 
kept under way all night, and at daylight an island 
was discovered directly ahead, upon which Lieutenant 
Paulding determined to land, in order to give his men 
breakfast. The islands forming the northern boundary 
of the lagoon could now be seen on either bow, and, as 
soon as the launch was seen by the savages, numbers of 
canoes put o£E from them and landed upon the island 
for which the launch was headed. Two of these canoes 
passed close to the launch as she was beating up to 
weather an intervening reef; and these Lieutenant 



28 CHARLES H£NRY DAYIS 

Paulding arrested and searched, although each was 
manned with twenty savages armed with spears and 
stones. The intrepidity of this act, perhaps coupled 
with a vague fear of the efEects of the white men's 
weapons, completely overawed the savages; but find- 
ing nothing in the canoes, Lieutenant Paulding suffered 
them to proceed. Drawn up on the beach of ihe 
island toward which they headed were about twenty 
large canoes, each of which would carry from thirty to 
forty men. The canoes which had been boarded sailed 
at least three miles to the launch's one, and it was evi- 
dent that it would be impossible to arrest the muti- 
neers of the Olobe whilst they, or their allies the 
natives, had the disposal of such a fleet of vessels with 
which to elude their pursuers. Lieutenant Paulding, 
therefore, determined to capture the whole fleet of 
canoes, even though he should be opposed by the 
natives and reduced to the necessity of measuring his 
strength with theirs. The boldness of this plan, as 
will presently be seen, secured the accomplishment of 
the main object of the expedition. 

The island toward which the course was directed was 
small, with few trees and consequently but a small 
number of huts, but there was a crowd of several hun- 
dred savages assembled on the shore. As Lieutenant 
Paulding approached he could see that they were send- 
ing their women and children to the huts, a movement 
which clearly indicated a disposition to hostility. How- 
ever, the launch continued to advance, and as there was 
some surf on the beach a kedge was dropped outside 
the line of breakers, and the boat was in the act of veer- 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 29 

ing to through the suif when a person in the guise 
of a native advanced from the crowd of savages on 
shore and addressed Lieutenant Paulding in English. 
He stood on the beach, thirty or forty yards from the 
launch and halfway between it and the natives, who 
had now seated themselves on the sand. The words 
which he uttered were ^^ The Indians are going to kill 
you : don't land unless you are prepared to fight ! " 
Although all were convinced that this was one of the 
men they had been looking for, the sensation created 
by his wild attire and sudden appearance, and above all 
by his words, seemed like the illusion of fancy. His 
hair was long, combed up and tied in a knot on top of 
his head ; he was naked, except for a mat about the 
loins, and the action of the tropical sun, combined with 
the use of cocoanut oil, had tanned his skin as dark as 
that of a native. He repeated his warning with great 
earnestness, and in a few hasty words described the plan 
of the savages, which was to prevail upon the boat's crew 
to land and seat themselves among them, when on a 
given signal the savages would rise aud knock them on 
the head with stones. This seemed probable enough, 
but still the knowledge that this was one of the muti- 
neers rendered his conduct suspicious, especially as he 
had been eluding the searching parties instead of giv- 
ing himself up at once, which he would naturally have 
done if he were innocent, or if he desired protection. 
Lieutenant Paulding asked him his name, and he said 
he was William Lay, one of the crew of the Globe. 
His stature answered to the description that had been 
furnished to Captain Percival of the individuals of the 



so CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

Globus crew. Lieutenant Paulding bade him come to 
the boat, but he replied that he was afraid to as the 
savages had ordered him to advance no nearer. He 
was then told to make a run for it, relying on the 
boat's crew for protection, but he again decUned, say- 
ing that the savages would kill him with stones before 
he could reach the surf. 

This colloquy had lasted but a very few minutes dur- 
ing which those in the boat had not ceased to veer 
slowly through the surf, while the natives had remained 
seated on the sand, evidently thinking that Lay was 
arranging their plan as directed ; they now called on 
him to know what Lieutenant Paulding had said. The 
latter saw that he would gain by pretending to assent 
to the ruse, and directed Lay to answer accordingly. 
The boat having reached the shore he landed and 
formed the crew, leaving the boat-keepers in the boat 
with orders to be ready to haul out to the anchor at a 
moment's notice. Then at the word the men drew 
their cutlasses and pistols and advanced up the beach. 
Lieutenant Paulding seized Lay, and still doubting 
whether he were not more foe than friend, clapped a 
pistol to his breast and again exclaimed, ^^Who are 
you ? " To this Lay replied, " I am your man," and 
burst into tears. Paulding turned instantly toward the 
crowd of savages and leveling his pistol bade Lay tell 
them that if they rose from their seats or threw a single 
stone he would kill them all. But Lay was completely 
overcome, and instead of complying with this conmiand 
broke into hysterical and incoherent ejaculations, half 
in English and half in the native language. The sav^ 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 31 

ages leaped to their feet with threatening gestures ; but 
Paulding, supported by his crew, kept his pistol steadily 
leveled and sternly commanded Lay to repeat his threat. 
Several of the boldest continued to advance, but not 
finding diemselves supported by their companions, they 
fell back, all except one unarmed old man. This was 
Lay's benefactor, or rather owner, who had saved his 
life, as Lay explained, at the general massacre of the 
Globe*8 crew, and who seemed much affected when Lay 
explained to him in a few words what his countrymen 
intended to do with him ; nor was Lay himself want- 
ing in sensibility or gratitude in parting with him. 
However, no time was to be lost lest the savages should 
recover from their first surprise and make an attack. 
Lay was therefore hurried to the boat, cutting short 
this interview somewhat peremptorily, and the launch 
was at once hauled out through the surf, and was soon 
out of range of the savages' weapons. 

This scene has been described in very nearly Lieu- 
tenant Paulding's own language. It made a lasting 
impression on those who witnessed it ; naturally so on 
the mind of a boy of eighteen, and in after life Davis 
was fond of recalling the adventures of this cruise. 
The fight with the sharks at Caroline Island, the hand- 
to-hand tustles at Byron's and Drummond's islands 
with naked savages covered with cocoanut oil and as 
slippery as eels, and above all this scene at the Mul- 
graves, and the boldness and nerve of Paulding, were 
many times recalled in familiar talk at home. A bio- 
graphical sketch of Admiral Paulding appeared in 
^^ Harper's Magazine'" soon after his death, and 

1 February, 1879. 



S2 CHABLES HENEY DAVIS 

speaking of the cruise of the Dolphin, the author 
says : '^ Among the midshipmen was the late Bear 
Admiral Charles Henry Davis^ who told the writer of 
this sketch that the boldest act he ever witnessed was 
performed by Lieutenant Paulding in the seizure of 
one of the mutineers in the face of a mob of infuriated 
savages armed with clubs and spears, • • • the natives 
being so much surprised at the audacity of the act that 
they made no attempt at recapture until it was too 
kte." 

As soon as the boat was out of danger from the 
savages. Lieutenant Paulding learned from Lay the fol- 
lowing particulars : All of the mutineers of the Globe 
were dead except himself and another lad named Cyrus 
Huzzy. There had been a quarrel between the mutir 
neers and the natives very soon after the escape of 
the ship, which had ended in a general massacre, the 
natives adopting the same method that they had in- 
tended to apply to Lieutenant Paulding and his boat's 
crew. Lay and Huzzy had been spared on account of 
their youth, and were enslaved by the natives. Huzzy 
was now on a neighboring island. Lay admitted that 
both he and Huzzy knew that the parties from the 
schooner were searching for them, but they had been 
closely watched and guarded by the natives ever since 
the Dolphin had been at the islands. The chiefs had 
sent a spy on board, who had counted the number of 
her guns, and within a very few of the number of her 
men. They had been kept constantly apprised of the 
force and motions of the search parties, and had seri- 
ously contemplated an attack on the Dolphin, and had 



CRUISE OF THE SCHOONEB DOLPHIN 8S 

consulted Lay and Huzzy, but these had dissuaded the 
savages, assuring them that the schooner was invin- 
cible. They had even made the chiefs believe that 
the Dolphin could sink the islands with her cannon ; 
but they still adhered tenaciously to the idea of de- 
stroying the invaders, and a variety of plans had been 
concocted by those chiefs who were considered the 
wisest and bravest, all of which had been submitted to 
Lay and Huzzy, Some of these plans gave evidence 
of superior intelligence and cunning, which it was 
hard to reconcile with their blind fear of the white 
man's superiority. 

Having refreshed his crew. Lieutenant Paulding 
headed his boat for the island on which Huzzy was 
said to be, making for a village in front of which a 
single large canoe was hauled up on the beach. As 
the launch landed, the chief of the island approached, 
attended only by a few women. He was instantly 
seized, and commanded to produce Huzzy on pain of 
death. Some of the women ran off and presently ap- 
peared with Huzzy, who could easily have been misr 
taken for a native, except for his long yellow hair, 
which hung in ringlets on his shoulders. Lugoma — for 
such was the chiefs name —7- manifested an extreme re- 
luctance to part with his son, as he called Huzzy ; but, 
though the latter owed his life to this old chief, and 
had been indebted to him for many acts of kindness, 
he had been living with him in a state of bondage, 
and had been made useful in many ways, and so the 
old man's reluctance was not altogether disinterested. 
However, Lieutenant Paulding cut short tiiis colloquy by 



34 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

ordering Huzzy into the boat ; and^ as Lngoma begged 
hard to accompany them, he was permitted to embark 
also, and accompanied the party during a part of its 
return journey to the ship. The day was now far 
advanced, and the launch started at once to return 
to the ship. They were joined by another boat from 
the Dolphin^ which had been sent for news of them ; 
and both boats anchored for the night at a point about 
twenty miles from Lugoma's island, where the chief 
landed the next morning, and the boats returned to the 
Dolphin. 

So much has been told of the mutiny of the Olohe 
and the search for the mutineers, in which Davis took 
so active a part, that it may not be out of place to com- 
plete the narrative by a brief recital of the facts learned 
by Captain Percival before the Dolphin finally left the 
Mulgrave Islands. 

The mutiny had been headed by a man named Com- 
stock, as already related, the other principal mutineers 
being Oliver, Paine, and the black steward. After the 
murder of the captain and three mates, Comstock, who 
was a boat-steerer, mustered the crew on the quarter 
deck and took command of the ship. He was the only 
one on board who could navigate, and he made the 
others swear allegiance. There were thirty*five or forty 
men and boys on board, and they all swore, those who 
had taken no part in the mutiny being in ignorance of 
the number involved, and being in terror of their lives. 
Very soon after the event the black steward was de- 
tected by Comstock in the act of loading a pistol. He 
was tried by a summary mock court, sentenced to death. 



CRUISE OP THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 36 

and hung at the yardarm. Comstock took the ship 
fiist to Dmmmond's Island^ but here the natives 
were very numerous and thievish^ and Comstock shot 
one of them, after which he was afraid to stay among 
them, so he came to the Mulgrave Islands, where he 
anchored and began to land the stores. A raft was 
made of two whaleboats and some spars, and on the 
first day some thirty barrels of beef and pork, sails, 
rigging, and a variety of other articles were landed. 
Comstock pitched a tent on shore, and on the second 
day began, with the ship's mechanics, to work on a 
whaleboat which he intended to raise upon and make 
larger. Paine was displeased at this, and a violent 
quarrel between the two ensued, so that Comstock was 
afraid to sleep that night in the tent, and went off to 
pass the night among the natives. Paine and Oliver 
agreed to kill him when he came back. Accordingly, 
the nert morning, as he '^ seen approaching along 
the beach, they opened fire on him and killed him. 
Comstock seems to have been, although the greater 
scoundrel, a man of intelligence superior to the others, 
and he had probably formed a project of imitating the 
example of the mutineers of the Bounty y of whose 
settlement on Pitcaim's Island he had probably heard ; 
for he had marked off the site for a town, and selected 
a spot for the church and the schoolhouse. 

After Comstock's murder Paine took command. 
The natives had been extremely friendly, so that the 
mutineers were not in the least afraid of them, and 
many of them were constantly at the tent, eating and 
sleeping there. Paine had a native girl, who was afraid 



86 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

of him, and lan away whenever she had an opportoniiy. 
He fired his musket at her several times^ and at last 
kept her by putting her in irons. A few days after 
the ship escaped^ some of the natives^ who had been at 
the tent, stole a number of tools ; so Paine gave some 
of his people muskets without cartridges (which he kept 
under lock and key)^ and sent them to the natives — 
a great number of whom were assembled not far o£E — 
to demand the stolen articles. The savages refused to 
give them up, and began to throw stones at the men, 
followed them toward the tent, and killed one of them. 
When the party got back to the tent^ Paine ordered all 
the muskets brought to him and locked them up. A 
few hours after^ the natives came to the tent as usual^ 
but in greater numbers^ and almost immediately the 
massacre began, Paine being the first man killed. 
Women and children participated in the slaughter, and 
the Globe people, who were unarmed and outnumbered, 
were knocked on the head with stones and clubs and 
run through with spears. Lay and Huzzy were the 
only ones spared. They were taken separately to other 
islands and became the property of their captors, and 
were harshly and cruelly treated at first, though their 
condition was afterwards somewhat ameliorated. 

The simplest communities are not necessarily arca- 
dian, and the common contrasts of power and impo- 
tence, poverty and affluence, intelligence and ignorance, 
were noticeable among these people. Lay's captor was 
very poor and treated his slave with rigor, and starved 
him, and finally sold him to a chief, with whom he 
received better treatment. Huzzy became the property 



CRUISE OP THE SCHOONER DOLPHIN 87 

of Lugoma, and was employed mostly on the water^ in 
charge of the canoe^ and was better treated. Lay and 
Huzzy were permitted to see each other about once a 
fortnight. 

Before leaving the Mulgrave Islands, the southern 
part of the chain was surveyed by the officers of the 
Dolphin^ and the schooner sailed all the way round the 
group, makiiig a rough running survey of the whole. 
Through the influence of Lugoma, an interview was 
arranged with the principal chiefs, who were received 
on board ship, and an interchange of presents took 
place, Captain Percival profiting by the opportunity to 
read the chiefs a lecture on the subject of their treat- 
ment of the mutineers. While the Dolphin was at 
these islands the ship's surgeon died, and was buried 
on shore with military honors, his grave being marked 
with a metal plate suitably inscribed, spiked to the 
trunk of a bread-fruit tree under which he was buried. 
At the request of Captain Percival, the principal chief 
tabooed l^e surgeon's grave.^ Captain Percival also 
planted a number of seeds of various kinds and loosed 
a pair of pigs. The son of the principal chief begged 
to be allowed to accompany the ship, but Captain Perci- 
val refused to take him. 

The Mulgrave Islands at the time of the DolphvfCs 
visit had almost never been vinted by civilized man. 
Lieutenant Paulding made an interesting study of the 
islands and their people, from which it would be out of 



^ VHien these islands weze Tinted by fheU. a S.iVarra^oiiMft in 187^ 
the dootor'a graye was found in good order, and the tahoo was stiU 
lespeeted. 



88 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

place to quote at length. The communiiy of natives 
presented a picturesque view of a people in a state 
of savage simplicity, whose confidence was easily won 
under fair treatment, and who were characterized by 
traits made familiar in the descriptions given by early 
navigators of the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, 
while they were still unsullied by contact with civilized 
man, communication with whom has invariably led to 
the debasement of the native races. The islands were 
thickly inhabited, and the people sustained their simple 
existence by the cultivation of the cocoanut and bread- 
fruit, and by fishing. Now the islands are exploited 
by a Grerman trading company, the missionary has 
taken full charge, and the native population has dwin- 
dled to a total of less than seven hundred. So little 
did these conditions appear probable in 1825 that the 
officers of the Dolphin expressed the opinion that the 
islands would seldom be visited again except by occa- 
sional whalers. 



CHAPTER m 

THE DOLPHIN — THE UNITED STATES — THE EBIE — EXAM- 
INATION 

The Dolphin sailed from the Molgrave Islands on 
the morning of December 9th and stood to the west- 
ward. She touched at Peddars Island the follow- 
ing day, and then shaped a course for the Sandwich 
Islands, stopping occasionally during the passage to 
verify certain reported discoveries of rocks and islands 
on the part of whaleships, then almost the only vessels 
that navigated these seas. Bird Island, the first land 
of the Sandwich Islands, was made on January 9th 
(1826), and such was the imperfection of the charts, 
and so little knowledge relating to these islands ob- 
tained at this time, that the Dolphin did not reach the 
anchorage at Honolulu until the 15th, six days after 
righting Bird Mand, and the port itself had no name in 
those days, being spoken of occasionally as Oonavoora, 
and sometimes as the Port of. Wooahoo (Oahu). Still 
the islands, and especially the port of Honolulu, had 
already acquired some importance as a place of resort 

estabUshed there, and the missionaries were also repre- 
sented, the head of the American mission being the 
famous Mr. Bingham, alluded to by Dana, in his ^^ Two 



40 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

Tears before the Mast/' as the godfather of one of his 
Kanaka shipmates. The Dolphin was the first United 
States vessel that ever visited the islandfl, and the pre- 
sence of an American man-of-war was a matter of real 
importance to merchant ships and the Americans on 
shore. Honolulu was the favorite port of call for 
whaling-shipsy and was at that time visited by about 
fifty American vessels annually. The months of Janu- 
ary^ February^ and March being the least favorable for 
whaling, vessels left their cruising g^unds and came 
here to refresh and refit. During the stay of the Doh 
phin there were more than twenty of these ships in 
port, some of which remained only a few days and 
others one or two months, according to their several 
necessities, and the seamen, after long confinement on 
board, were apt to be riotous and insubordinate on 
shore. Captain Percival had the satisfaction of being 
constantly useful to the masters of these vessels and to 
the whaling interest by restraining the violence of these 
men, and coercing them to a proper sense of obedience. 
The unruly were arrested, brought on board the Dol^ 
phin, and flogged at the gangway. Such were the 
powers and duties of the captain of a man-of-war in 
those days, and the presence of a government ship in 
a remote port frequented by merchant vessels was of 
active benefit to masters and owners. The Dolphin 
made a long stay at Honolulu, was hove down, and 
thoroughly repaired and refitted. The islands at this 
time were in the first stage of transition from barba- 
rism to civilization. The natives were still naked sav- 
ages, but were nominally converted to Christianity, and 



THE DOLPHIN 41 

were directed in matters of faith and doctrine by Mr. 
Bingham^ whose influence was far-reaching, as he con- 
trolled the native chiefs and really represented in his 
own person the government of the islands. An inci- 
dent illustrating the childlike character of these still 
simple, savages occurred during the stay of the Dolphin. 
Some of the officers had made up a party for an excur- 
sion to Pearl Biver, under the g^dance of one of the 
American residents. The day chosen was a Saturday^ 
and they were to pass the night at the habitation of an 
old chief, who was not apprised in advance. They 
found the old man evidently disconcerted at the appear- 
ance of so large a party of uninvited guests, and when 
told that they wanted supper he replied that it was the 
Sabbath, and neither then nor the next day could a 
fire be kindled, as it was forbidden by the Almighty. 
When asked how he knew that it was forbidden by the 
Almighty, he said that Mr. Bingham had seen the 
Almighty, who had told him so. This was rather a 
damper on the promised enjoyment of the excursion, 
but fortunately a native named Joe Banks, who had 
been brought along as cook and interpreter, came to 
the rescue. Joe Banks had no more mind to fast 
than the others, and not being wanting in volubility 
he harangued the old chief to such efEect that a fire 
was soon kindled and a pig and a kid brought up for 
slaughter. The real force of his argument was lost 
to the officers, as it was unintelligible. There was an 
epidemic of influenza at the islands during the Doh 
phin*8 stay, from which the crew suffered ; and, in fact, 
both in Honolulu and on the voyage to Valparaiso 



42 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

I 
I 

there was much sickness on board. The hardships of 
a sea life at that time can hardly be appreciated now. 
The ship was small and crowded ; water was carried 
in wooden casks, and became fonl and nasty, and 
even of that the allowance was very small; salt pro* 
visions were exclnsiyely used at sea, and bread became 
mouldy and infested with weevils; the nature and 
treatment of scurvy, a terribly common disease on 
board ship, was entirely unknown. The commonest 
rules of ship hygiene, so thoroughly applied in mod- 
em ships, were totally neglected; and finally, the 
ship had lost her surgeon at the Mulgrave Islands. 
Many men and almost all the officers were on the sick 
list at various times. Captain Fercival was ill for a 
good part of the voyafire after leaving: Honolulu, and 
L »L, for eJ^o «u^ L for ia^'^ 
have been indescribably barassbg, for the ship was 
idling ia «. ^.™ i M <rf Wd i^^ «.d 
unreported dangers, and vigilance could never be re- 
laxed. As the Dolphin drew toward Valparaiso she 
approached high latitudes at the stormy season of the 
year, with a crew enervated by sickness and by long 
exposure in the tropics. For a vivid picture of sea life 
in those days read Dana's splendid narrative of the 
homeward voyage of the Alert round Cape Horn, less 
than ten years later, the great prose epic of the sea^ 

The Dolphin sailed from Honolulu on the 11th of 
May, and on the night of June 7th land was dis- 
covered dose aboard. As this land did not appear on 
the chart the Dolphin lay to for the night, and in the 
morning discovered an unknown island, one of the out- 



THE DOLPHIN 48 

lying islands of the Society group^ to which Captain 
Percival gave the name of Hull Island^ in honor of the 
commodore.^ Continuing her voyage the schooner 
touched at Raiatea and Lubai of the Society Islands^ 
and at the latter island she remained a week. It was 
here that the mutineers of the Bounty made their first 
landing and built a fort; but were forced to abandon 
the settlement on account of the hostility and treachery 
of the natives. They had a war here with the savages 
and killed a good many of them, and if their estimate 
of the number of inhabitants is nearly correct, the 
population muBt have already greaily diminished at the 
time of the DolphirCs visit. The distance from the So- 
ciety Islands to Valparaiso is about three thousand five 
hundred miles, but the Dolphin had been steered well 
to the southward for the benefit of the westerly winds, 
and so the wind was fair for most of the voyage. Pro- 
visions began to run low, and the tarro or yam of the 
Society Islands was used instead of bread. It was with 
a feeling of relief that the island of Mas-a-f uera was 
sighted on the afternoon of July 19th. Juan Fernan- 
dez was in sight the next morning; and from these 
islands to the coast of Chili the run in is always with 
a fair wind, so that the Dolphin anchored at Valparaiso 
on the 26th. Captain Percival not finding the commo- 
dore here, sailed for CaUao, where he joined the flag on 
the 20th of August, after an absence of a year. The 
officers and men of the Dolphin were transferred to the 
United StateSy a new detail from the frigate relieving 

^ HnU Iflland lies to the southward of the Society groap and aboat 
midway between the Austral and Hervey or Cook islands. 



44 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

them^ and Lay and Huzzy were indnded in this general 
transfer and became members of the frigate's crew. 

The war in Peru was over^ the castle of Gallao^ the 
last stronghold of Spanish royalty, having been sur- 
rendered on the 24th of January, 1826, the United 
States being the first vessel to salute the Peruyian 
flag ; and Commodore Hull was expecting his relief on 
the station. Accordingly the United States sailed for 
Valparaiso, where she found the Brandyt/oiney frigate, 
with Commodore Jacob Jones, Commodore Hull's suc- 
cessor. The United States hoisted the red pennant, 
the two frigates sailed together on January 24, 1827, 
and, after an exchange of salutes at sea, parted com- 
pany, the Brandywine standing to the northward and 
the United States homeward bound. The passage 
round Cape Horn was made without incident. The 
ship touched at Bahia, Barbados, and St. Thomas, and 
anchored in Baritan Bay on April 23d, eighty-nine days 
from Valparaiso. The next day, the wind being fair, 
she got under way, stood up through the Narrows and 
anchored in the North Biver, and on the 30th she was 
towed to the navy yard and paid off, the navy yard 
people taking charge of the ship, and the officers pro- 
ceeding to their homes. 

Perhaps the story of this first cruise in the Pacific 
has been written at too great length. A biography 
should summarize unimportant events in order to dwell 
at length on those of gpreater consequence, and the 
whole of the cruise of the United States and Dolphin 
nught have been summed up in a single paragraph. 
Lieutenant Paulding's book offered abundant material. 



THE UNITED STATES 45 

and the temptation to rewrite a forgotten chapter in 
the history of the service, even at the risk of irrele- 
vancy, was irresistible. Bnt there is another reason, 
or perhaps rather another excuse, which may justify 
the story of this cruise, and that is, the desire to pre- 
sent, as vividly as possible, the contrast between the 
education of the young officer, in the days when the 
best field of training was still believed to be the sea, 
and the purely academic course pursued at the present 
day. Davis was barely twenty years old when he fin- 
ished this cruise, in which he had borne his share in 
peril and adventure, and, more important still, his share 
of responsibility. Farragut was thirteen in the action 
between the Uasex and Phc^e. The officers of the 
old service who attained distinction were characterized 
not only by a thorough acquaintance with their pro- 
fession, but by sound judgment, firmness, readiness, 
and decision. What part of this was the efEect of 
an early experience in fighting and danger and adven- 
ture, and, above all, in responldbility ? Were these 
traits inherent in the men themselves, and would they 
have been as strongly developed within the walls of 
a rural college on the banks of a shallow stream one 
hundred and fifty miles from the ocean ? The wisdom 
of the present generation has answered the last ques* 
tion unhesitatingly in the afBrmative, and tiie argu- 
^U for 4e p^, «>.d«uie i,^^«t^<^ 
are held to be unanswerable. The sahent requirements 
of the naval profession remain the same, whether the 
ship moves under oars or sails or steam ; and while (to 
borrow a phrase from a recent English writer) tiie 



46 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

young officer of to-day has been taught how each 
thing ought to be done^ the young officer of the old 
service knew how to do it. Whatever the defects of 
the old system may have been, it produced, in Davis's 
case at least, not only an accomplished officer, but a 
scholar and a student of science. As has been said 
before, the result of the old i^rstem was the survival of 
the fittest. The hundreds who &dled in the race and 
dropped by the wayside have long since been lost sight 
of and forgotten. Now the whole mass of original 
material is worked up to the common standard, and 
every individual succeeds. 

A leave of absence of three months, which Davis 
passed at his father's house in Boston, succeeded the 
cruise in the Pacific ; and in July, 1827, he received his 
warrant and an appointment to the ^He, sloop-of-war, 
fitting at New York for the West India station. He 
reported on board the JErie on the 3d of August, in 
time to take part in the preparation of the ship for 
sea, the fitting and rigging being performed by her 
own crew under the direction of her own officers. 

There is no event of special interest connected with 
the cruise of the Urie. The squadron in the West 
Indies was commanded by Commodore Bidgeley, and 
consisted of the NatcheZy Hornet^ Mrie, and Falmouth, 
sloops, and the Ghrampus and Shark, schooners. Piracy 
in the West Indies, so long a scourge to commerce, 
had been for the time suppressed, although occasional 
rumors of renewed acts of piracy had created recent 
uneasiness. Commodore Porter, who was then in the 
service of Mexico, had issued a proclamation inviting 



THE ERIE 47 

all those who were disposed to fit out privateers, to 
cruise against Spain, to apply to him for commissions ; 
and two of these vessels had used the port of Key West 
as a rendezvous from which to carry on belligerent 
operations. In addition, poUtical convulsions in several 
of the countries bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, and 
the want of any r^ularly organized governments in 
many of the ports, offered grounds for apprehension 
as to the Bafeiy of American commerce and the righte 
of American citizens. These causes were sufficient to 
keep the small squadron constantly employed. 

The Eriej under the command of Master-Command- 
ant Daniel Turner, sailed from New York on the 28th 
of August to join Commodore Bidgeley's squadron. 
A week out, the ship encountered a hurricane, in which 
she made very bad weather indeed. As the storm 
increased^ sail was reduced on the ship until she lay 
to under storm-staysails, laboring heavily and shipping 
heavy seas, so that the waist and berth deck were 
flooded, the wind at E. S. E., and, with the sea, in- 
creasing momentarily. Under these circumstances. Cap- 
tain Turner adopted the doubtful expedient of scudding 
under bare poles. Nothing whatever was known of 
the laws of storms at that time, for it was several years 
later that Mr. Bedfield published his theory of the 
storms of the Atlantic coast. Probably the Erie was 
di».tljia th.tn»k .t <]» ^n. «>nt4 <md in ««d- 
ding brfo» th. ™.d 4e ™. filing »a.d the ^ 
circumference. Finally, on the fourth day of the gale, 
the ship was brought to under main storm-staysail 
and storm-mizzen, when the wind immediately abated. 



48 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

Several years later, in connection with other scientific 
work, Davis took np Bedfield's theory, and nsed this 
gale of the Erie as an illustration. Seamen up to that 
time were guided by limited common sense and their 
own experience, and the expedient of scudding was 
one which was generally adopted then, but which no 
seaman in his senses would think of resorting to now, 
except in certain well-defined contingencies. 

The JEHe continued to cruise on the West India 
station, visiting Fensacola, Key West, Havana, Santiago 
de Cuba, and Matanzas, and passing a good deal of 
time at sea, until in April, 1828, she joined the com- 
modore at Fensacola. When the Dolphin was at the 
Sandwich Islands, Captain Percival had received intel- 
ligence that the American ship London was ashore on 
a neighboring island, and the master of her begged 
assistance, as besides a valuable cargo he had a treasure 
in specie and bullion on board, and the natives had 
already plundered a part of the cargo. The Dolphin 
WBB dismasted and refitting, but Captain Percival char* 
tered an American merchant brig, and, putting part of 
the crew of the Dolphin on board, took Davis with 
him, and proceeded to the scene of the wreck. He 
found the ship, as represented, in distress, the natives 
plundering her, and the crew in a state of mutiny. 
Captain Percival rescued the greater part of the stolen 
goods, transferred the most valuable part of the cargo 
and the treasure to the brig, and remained by the 
wreck for a week, until the whole of the cargo had- 
been loaded into native boats and transferred to Hono* 
lulu. When all this had been effected, the master of 



EXAMINATION 40 

the London refused to pay the cIlarf;e^par(y of the 
brig which had been employed for his relief ^ and Cap- 
tain Pereival adopted the summaiy process of deducting 
ihe amoont from the treasure which was still in his 
possession. Upon his return to the United States the 
master had procured an indictment against Pereival, 
and the latter was arrested as soon as he reached New 
York and brought to trial. He was acquitted, but the 
master of the London was not satisfied, and began a 
series of complaints to the Navy Department, assailing 
Perciyal's character and his general conduct while in 
command of the Dolphin at the Sandwich Islands, and 
he had succeeded in enlisting the support of the Board 
of Foreign Missions by representations relating to Per* 
cival's intercourse with the natives and missionaries. 
It was a very mixed-up business, the details of which 
are not worth notice ; but Captain Pereival asked for a 
court of inquiry, which was ordered to meet at the 
Boston navy yard, and as Davis was the principal wit- 
ness, Commodore Ridgeley was directed to detach him 
from the JSrie and send him home. Thus it transpired 
that he found himself on shore again after a cruise of 
less than a year in the West Indies. This short cruise 
was altogether unimportant, but it had served to cement 
the intimacy already existing with Footo, who was in 
the same squadron, first on board the Natchez and 
later in the *i3bm«<. Davis was now looking forward 
anxiously to his examination, for he had served his 
time as midshipman and was now entitled to it ; and 
Footo had already passed successfully. Hoppin, in his 
life of Footo, says: ^^ Admiral Davis says of this 



50 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

examination that Foote and himself got news of it 
together^ and the question wbb, how to get ready. 
They at once set about their preparation with great 
eamestnessi consulting what books they had access to, 
but chiefly making practical observations and reducing 
the science of their profession to a regular working 
system/' This must refer to the cruise of the United 
StateSy when the impending examination was doubtiess 
a subject of anxious discussion in the steerage on the 
passage home^ for Foote was of the date of 1822^ and 
passed his examiuation in Aprils 1827. In fact Davis^ 
writing from the Mississippi Biver in 1862^ when he 
relieyed Foote in front of Fort Pillow^ alludes to their 
studies as boys, and says that he and Foote wrote a 
book on seamanship together. The examination must 
have been an ordeal, considering the total lack of 
regular instruction for midshipmen on board ship. 
Still, there were some facilities for those who chose to 
apply themselves to learn. Navigation would be taught 
by the sailing-master to promising pupils^ and in the 
daily practice of duty they were learning seamanship 
as a child learns to swim. Gunnery was a compara- 
tively simple art in those days, the intricacies of applied 
mechanical science on board ship can hardly be said 
to have existed at all ; and it is not probable that much 
time at the examination was devoted to the humanities. 
The court of inquiry in Captaiu Percival's case met 
as ordered at the Boston yard, and Davis had the satis- 
faction of aiding materially in the vindication of his 
late commander ; and he now addressed the Navy De- 
partment, asking for a leave of absence in order to 



EXAMINATION 51 

prepare for his examination^ writing : ^^ I trust that it 
i¥ill not be irrelevant to remind the department that 
I have hitherto been ahnost constantiy employed on 
active service^ and therefore deprived of those superior 
advantages of study and theoretical improvement to be 
possessed on shore^ to enjoy which^ rendered doubly 
important as they are by the near approach of my ex- 
amination^ is the object of my present application." 
The department was graciously pleased to grant ^^ leave 
unlimited/' and Davis set himseU seriously to work to 
prepare for the examination^ at the same time renewing 
his early friendships and associations in Boston^ and 
entering heartily into the social amusements of his 
father's friends. Those who remembered him at this 
time have described him as a yoimg man of handsome 
person and engaging manners^ and a favorite in society. 
His father's house was a centre of hospitality ; his sisters 
were young girls in society ; and he entered the social 
world of Boston with every advantage^ without, how- 
ever, abating his diligence in study. He had not 
enjoyed his leave of absence long before he received 
orders to report for duly on board the receiving ship at 
the Charlestown yard. This was a serious interruption 
to his projected plan of study, so he ventured to address 
a respectful remonstrance to Ae department, reminding 
it of the leave of absence so lately g^ranted, and the pur- 
pose for which it had been asked, and requesting a revo- 
cation of the unwelcome order. Again the department 
favored his application, and leave unlimited was renewed. 
On October 28th Davis received notice to attend the 
examination to be held at the New York station for 



($2 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

candidates of ihe date of 1823| so he went at onoe 
to New York and took up his lesidenoe in Brooklyn 
among his classmates, who were beginning to assemble 
in nmnbers, and for the convenience of the navy yard, 
at which place the meetings of ihe board were to be 
held. No record of this examination, or of its form 
exists. The whole examination was a most lengthy 
process, as it involved the whole number of the date, or 
as many of them as chose to compete for permanent 
standing in the service ; and, although the examination 
of a single candidate may have occupied only a few 
days, the board, composed of three post-captains, was 
in session throughout the winter. The whole time was 
probably divided into periods, and the "^ole class may 
have been examined in one branch before the next was 
taken up. Davis was not discharged from attendance 
before the board until the end of February, 1829, and, 
as he had notified the department that he should con- 
tinue his residence in Brooklyn until the decision of 
the board in his case was made public, he did not 
return to Boston until the middle of April. 

The date of 1823 had entered eighiy-nine strong. 
Of this number, only thirty-nine passed the examina* 
tion. They first appear arranged in order of rank as 
passed midshipmen in the Register for 1831, and Davis's 
name stands number six on the list. Of the five who 
passed above him, only one, Henry K. Hoff, reached 
flag rank, and was still in the service at the close 
of the civil war ; nor -does the list of those below him 
show the names of many who reached high rank or 
distinction in the service. 



CHAPTER IV 



BAIUNG-HASTBB AND LlEUTKNAlTr — THB OKTABIO— -THX 
TINCENNE8 AND YEBMONT — THS INDEPENBENGB 



WmiiB waiting in New York for the tesolt of 
examination^ Davis applied to the department for the 
appointment of acting sailing-master to the G(mwrd, 
tdoop^ and^ not receiving an immediate reply^ he re- 
newed his application after his return to Boston in 
May. The Concord was a new sloop of 22 guns, 
built in 1828, and fitting at Portsmoutii ; hut she did 
not finally get to sea until early in the year 1831, and 
Davis could not afford to wait so long, as service as 
a passed midshipman was important if an appointment 
as sailing-master could be had. The examination gave 
him the right to a lieutenant's commission so soon as a 
vacancy for him should occur, and to pass the inter- 
vening time as safling-master of a ship was of the 
greatest professional advantage. He was, therefore, 
gratified to receive, early in June, his orders to join 
the OntariOy fitting at New York for tiie Mediterra- 
nean station, as acting sailing-master. 

The Ontario was a fine vessel of 22 guns, and tiie 
cruise which followed has been a famous one, not so 
much for any achievement or particularly important 
service as because the ship was a crack ship, and the 



64 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

officers a particularly capable set of men^ several of 
whom made their mark in the service. The station^ 
too^ was a favorite one^ and the best possible school for 
a young officer; and the squadron was commanded, 
daring the greater part of the cruise of the OntariOy 
by Commodore James Biddle, an officer whose profes- 
sional standing was very high, and who impressed 
his character on the squadron under his command. 
Du Pont was a lieutenant on board the Ontario, and 
Dahlgren was a midshipman. The latter preserved a 
journal kept during a part of the cruise, from which 
his biographer ha^ quoted at length. Later in the 
cruise, and after Davis had received his commission 
and had become one of the regular lieutenants of 
the ship, he was succeeded as sailing-master by his 
friend, Charles McBlair, who had come out in the 
John Adams. Although there were many changes 
among the officers during the three years which the 
ship remained on the station, Davis and Du Pont re- 
mained in her and came home in her. This was the 
beginning of an intimacy which never flagged, and 
which lasted through life. Another of the lieutenants 
was George N. Hollins, who stood at the very head of 
the profession in those days as an officer and seaman. 
By vacancy he became first lieutenant during the cruise, 
and came home in the ship in. that capacity. Hollins 
went South and entered the Confederate service, and 
commanded on the Mississippi in 1862, when Davis 
met and defeated the Confederate fleet at Fort Pillow 
and destroyed it at Memphis. 

The Ontario sailed from New York in August, 1829, 



THE ONTABIO ' 65 

canying out as passengers the newly appointed consul 
to Algiers with his family. Eighteen days out of port^ 
one of those accidents occurred which are sufBlcient in 
themselves to account for many instances of losses at 
sea^ in which vessels which sail in perfect trim are never 
heard of again. Such was a fate which the Ontario 
only escaped by a very narrow margin. The ship had 
encountered strong gales and very unsettled weather^ 
the wind hauling from southwest to northwest ; and 
while lying to under maintopsail dose reefed and 
storm-staysails^ at four o'clock in the morning of Sep- 
tember Oth, she was struck down by a tremendous 
squall that laid the ship on her beam-ends. In an in- 
stant, and notwithstanding that the ship was battened 
down, the lower deck was flooded ; men tumbled out of 
their hammocks against the beams, and, forcing up the 
gratings, the stream of people from below contended in 
the hatchways with the stream of water from above. 
Davis always said that Hollins, who was lieutenant of 
the watch, saved the ship. With instant presence of 
mind, he cut the maintopsail sheets himself, and, head- 
ing a small party, worked his way forward and boarded 
the fore tack. With the helm hard up, the ship payed 
ofE slowly and righted, deep witii the weight of water 
she had taken on board. The berth deck was scuttled 
and the pumps rigged, and Hollins, taking his station 
at the taffrail, conned the ship, scudding under head- 
sail alone before the tremendous seas. This gale was 
notable as that in which the sloop of war Hornet was 
probably lost. She had sailed from the West India 
station about the same time that the Ontario had left 



M • CHABLES HENBT DAVIS 

New Ywky and was never heard of again. She most 
have heen some hundreds of miles to the sonthwaid and 
westward of the Ontcurio's poeiticMi daring ike gak^ and 
the officers of the hitter always beheved that she was 
stmck down and perished in an accident like that in 
which the Ontario was so nearly lost. 

The ship anchored at Gibraltar on September 19th, 
and during the three years she remained on the station 
she was employed on the ordinary cmising incident to 
the service^ and Ihe winters were passed at Port Mahon. 
Almost the first duty required of the Ontario was a 
Tisit to Algiers, then still an independent power, where 
the consul was landed. In a second visit to the same 
port, the Ontario carried the last payment of tribute to 
the Barbery powers, for while she was still at the p<Mrt 
the French squadron, which was to reduce Algiers, 
appeared in the offing. In November, 1830, Davis 
took a watch and division as one of the regular lieuten* 
ants of the ship, although he still continued to perform 
Ihe duties of sailingmaster until he was relieved by his 
friend McBlair in June, 1831, and at the same time 
Captain T. H. Stevens, who had brought the ship out, 
was relieved by Captain W. L. Gordon. 

While the Ontario was lying at Smyrna she was 
visited one day by an Austrian admiral, who was hon- 
ored with the usual salute on leaving the ship. Unfor- 
tunately, one of the Ontario* s guns happened by an 
oversight to have been left shotted,^ and the shot 



^ A ship of war alwajrs loaded her hattexy immediately after leaving 
port, and generaUj, in time of peaoe, drew the shot from her guns oo 
entering a friendly port 



THE ONTABIO 97 

passed through the main boom of a Dutch brig of 
war^ cut away the main lift and brace of a French brig 
of war^ and lodged in the hold of an Austrian merchant 
ship. It is rdated that one of the crew of the Dutch 
brig was killed by splinters from the boom. There 
was very great mcnrtification on board the Ontario at 
the result of the accident, and apologies were tendered 
by the captain in person, which were graciously received 
by the Dutch captaiu with the assurance that it was a 
matter of yeiy litde consequence as there were plenty 
more Dutchmen in Holland. Tradition survived for 
many years after Port Mahon had been abandoned as 
the headquarters of our station in the Mediterranean, 
of the glories of that port as naval winter quarters, 
when the fleets of several nations were assembled in the 
harbor and the ofKcers met in social pleasures on shore. 
Dahlpen left in his journal a viTid pictare of ihe scene. 
But it was not in amusement alone that Davis filled the 
leisure of the three years of this cruise, although it was 
^ exceedingly mieLing one to him on accolt of the 
nature of the service and ihe historical interest attach- 
ing to every mile of the Mediterranean and every port 
visited. During this cruise he became proficient in 
navigation and the duties of his profession. He entered 
on a systematic course of reading, and he also studied 
the languages ; and he retained through life a thorough 
proficiency in French and Spanish, and a good smatter- 
ing of Italian, which he gained on this cruise. Commo- 
dore Biddle established, perhaps for the first time in 
our service, the practice of demanding from captains a 
report on the qualifications of officers. Captain Gk>r- 



68 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

don in his report on the officers of the Ontario 
says : ^ ^' Lieutenant G. H. Davis is intelligent in his 
profession^ energetic in his character^ and devoted to 
the improyement of his mind. His country ma;^ an- 
ticipate much from him." This is probably a fair 
summary of his character as a very young man. 

From many causes, theref ore, this cruise left a last- 
ing impression on Davis's mind and a deep trace on his 
character, and he was always fond of reverting to it in 
after life. More than thirty years after this cruise was 
over, and when the civil war had brought to the navy 
its bitterness in the severance of those ties of affection 
and fraternity which had existed for so long, Davis 
wrote to Du Pont : ^^ I have lately gone back in my 
thoughts to our early association which began in 1829, 
thirty-three and a half years ago, — the time allotted to 
a generation of men. Our friend Shakespeare says in 
one of his historical plays, ^ What youth is there who, 
if he could foresee the future events of his life, would 
not rather lie down and die than run the race that is 
set before him ? ' The same wise Providence that keeps 
the lower animal ignorant of his fate, so that ^ he licks 
the hand that 's raised to shed his blood,' conceals from 
us also, its reasoning agents, the purposes of its wis- 
dom. If during one of those merry feasts for which 
the hospitality of the Ontario was famous, while seated 
at the table with our guests from the Constellation^ the 

^ By • enzioas ooinoidenoey while the author was on duty in the Navj 
Department, thia letter was picked op by one of the elerhs of the same 
office, among a lot of old papers which had been sent to the furnace-room 
to be burned. 



THE ONTABIO 69 

veil of the future could have been pushed aside for a 
moment; the effect would have been like that produced 
on the revelers who^ after draining the cup, discovered 
that the wine had been poisoned*" These are bitter 
words, but written in bitter times. 

The Ontario returned to the United States, and was 
paid off at Norfolk in May, 1832, and the officers were 
granted leave of absence. Davis returned to Boston 
and passed a year of uninterrupted leisure until, in 
April, 1833, he was placed on duty on board the re- 
ceiving ship at the Boston navy yard. Receivingndiip 
duty is always irksome and disagreeable. It brings 
the confinement of life on board ship without the 
excitement and interest of service at sea, and without 
the incentives to diligence and zeal to be found in 
a refiTularly commissioned ship. It is unimprovins: 

tirely unsuited to Davis's tastes and bent of mind. He 
had already begun to turn his thoughts toward scien- 
tific occupation, and the goal at this time was the newly 
organized coast survey. He therefore applied for duty 
on the survey, and, as his letter shows how small were 
the beginnings of that great establishment, it is given 
entire: — 

U. S* Rbujuvino Ship ColumbttBi 
May 23^ 1833. 

Sm, — I have the honor respectfully to request orders for 
the coast surveying service, which is to be conducted under 
the superintendency of Mr. Hassler. I beg to solicit from 
the department a favorable consideration of this request, and 
to be remembered as an applicant for this service, provided 



60 CHABLES HENBT DAVIS 

ihe department do not tbink proper to indnlge me with irn- 
mf)difttf> ordenk 

Ywj itspeetfally, 

Lieut. C* H. Dayib. 

Hon^ Levi Woodbukt, Seeretuy of ihe N»^. 

This letter is indorsed^ ^^ How many officers needed ? '' 
<< All that have been asked for by the Treasuiy Departs 
ment have been ordered, viz., Lieut. Bell and Midship* 
man H^idason.'' 

Davis made anotiier application for the same duty in 
June, which was indorsed, ^^ Name entered as an app& 
cant. But no officer of his grade needed in the survey 
at present.*' 

Ci^tain Alexander Wadsworth, who had commanded 
the ConstdUxtion in the Mediterranean during Davis's 
service in the Ontario^ and who had also served as a mem* 
ber of the Percival court of inquiry, was one of Davis's 
earliest friends in the service, and was also a friend of 
his father. This officer was appointed during the sum- 
mer of 1833 to command the squadron in the Pacific, 
and his flagship, the VincenneBy was fitting for sea at 
the Norfolk yard. Having failed in his effort for duty 
on the coast survey, Davis now applied for the Vinr 
cennes. The complement of officers was already filled, 
but by persistent effort, and the interest and assistance 
of Commodore Wadsworth, he succeeded, and was ap- 
pointed as a supemuineraiy lieutenant to the ship and 
flag lieutenant to the commodore. He joined her at 
Norfolk in October, and, a vacancy occurring, he be- 
came one of the regular watch officers. The Vincmnes 
sailed early in November, and reached Bio de Janeiro 



THE VINGENNES 61 

on Jaauary 4^ 1834^ where she remained only a few 
days. She had a long and hard passage round Cape 
Horn, encountering much ice, and reached Valparaiso 
early in March. At Gallao the Vincennes fell in with 
the Dolphin^ which was officered and manned by a 
detail from the flagship. This must have served to 
recall very vividly to Davis the events of his first 
cruise. 

It would be uninteresting to dwell at leng^ on 
the events of this short cruise. To recall ihem would 
only be to rehearse an insignificant chapter of the inter^. 
minable civil turbulences and revolutionary disputes 
which form the whole early history of the South Amer^ 
ican republics^ and which lose the importance which 
might attach to any one of them singly by the fre* 
quency of their recurrence. It would be next to im« 
possible to write the history of these revolutions, and it 
would also be a futile task, for nobody would care to 
read it. Political agitation, based on personal ambition 
and a total disregard of the principles of civil liberty as 
understood in this country, forms the whole groundwork 
of their institutions. By the constitution of several of 
these states, the inherent right to revolt is guaranteed^ 
and at the same time the Boman Catholic religion is 
established by the state and religious liberty denied. 
Such a condition is not calculated to insure peace or 
political stability. One ambitious demagogue succeeds 
another in the supreme control of the government, the 
duration of each re^ depending on the personal ability 
and activity of the incumbent, whose career is fre- 
quentiy terminated by assassination. Such, for the 



62 CHARLES HENBY DAY1& 

first half century at least of their independent exist- 
ence, was the common histoiy of the South American 
repubUcs. For the purposes of this memoir, it is quite 
sufficient to say that the Vincennes passed a great deal 
of time in the Guayaquil Biver guarding American in- 
terests in the civil disturbances agitating the state of 
Ecuador; for coeval with the development of this 
political condition came the wide extension of American 
commerce, and United States vessels of war in South 
American waters were fully occupied in guarding the 
complex interests of our citizens abroad. In September 
the Vincennea was again at Gallao, and the American 
consul at lima applied to the commodore for an officer 
to take charge of the bark Vermont, which had lost 
her captain by the misconduct or mutiny of a part of 
the crew. At his own solicitation, Commodore Wads- 
worth gave Davis permission to take charge of this 
ship and return with her to the United States, directing 
him to report by letter to the Navy Department on his 
arrival home. With three midshipmen from the Vinr 
cennea as watch officers/ Davis took command of the 
Vermont, sailed from Callao on September 14th, and 
for the fourth time made the passage round Cape Horn, 
reaching New York in February, 1835, where he re^ 
ported his arrival by letter to the Navy Department, 
and, being granted leave of absence, went immediately 
home. 

Davis's father, the solidtor^eneral, who was now in 

^ MiiiAipiwAn O. H. Penji J. B. Dale, Mid Stephen Decatur, good 
navy names. Tliese young gentlemen went home in the VennorU for 
their examination, and all passed. Peny resigned in 1849, Dale died in 
1S48| and Decator died a commodore on the retired list in 1876. 



THE VINCENNES 63 

old age, had resigned his office and retired from active 
life, and had settled in Cambridge while his son was 
in the Pacific on board the Vincennea. As he had no 
ties of his own, Cambridge, therefore, became Davis's 
home, and continued to be his place of residence until 
tiie close of the civil war. During the period which 
followed his return with the Vermont, he was some- 
times on leave of absence, and part of the time again 
on duty on board the receiving ship at the Boston 
yard. His father died in October, 1835, but his sisters 
remained in Cambridge, and it was at this time that 
the close intimacy with Professor Benjamin Peirce 
began. They were later allied by marriage, but at 
this time Peirce had just begun his career as professor 
of mathematics at Harvard, and he and his wife and 
sister-in-law were intimate with Davis's sisters. In 
Peirce's companionship, and under his guidance, Davis 
took up the serious study of mathematics, for which 
he had a natural fondness, and, though he could not 
follow the transcendent flights of Peirce's genius, he 
acquired a working familiarity with mathematical tools, 
and his studies at this time stimulated the analytical 
bent of his intellect, and determined, to a great degree, 
his future career, in which he did some good mathe- 
matical work. This intercourse with Peirce, and with 
others of the faculty in Cambridge, and his mathemati- 
cal studies, tended to confirm the inclination toward 
scientific pursuits which had been manifested in 1833 
in his application for duty on the coast survey ; and, 
although it was several years still before he actually 
began his career in ahnost the only field of research 



M CHABLES HENRT DAVIS 

tiben Cfpen to the navy, his rtadieB date from tliis 
pmocL 8oy tooy from this time the intimacy with Bok- 
jamin Fdrce, which Listed through lif e, took the pbee 
of hrotberly affeetiony which he had not known^ mnoe 
boyhood. 

In the autumn of 1836 Davis was ordered to rqxvt 
to Commodore John B. Nicolson for duly in connection 
with the recruiting service in Boston, and by the latter 
directed to open a rendezvous for the enlistment of 
seamen for the Brazil station ; and in January, 1837, 
he was assigned to the razee Independence^ CSommodore 
Nicolson's flagship. He kept a journal of this cruise, 
which, like that of the Ontario, was an interesting one 
on account of the grround covered, as well as from 
the character of the ship and her officers The Inde^ 
pendence was the largest frigate in the world at that 
time. The flatulent dullness of newspaper writers has 
so hackneyed that phrase in descriptions of tiie several 
ships of the new navy, one after another, that it is 
stupid to employ it ; only, in the case of the Independ- 
ence, it happens to be literally true. She had been 
built for a seventy-four, and razeed one deck, and in 
no navy of the world was tiiere a frigate of such pro* 
portions. To display this magnificent ship in the north- 
em ports of Europe, which American men-of-war seldom 
visited, was one of the objecte of the cruise* She carried 
out the United States mioister to Russia, Mr« DaUas, 
with his family,and visited first the English porte of Ryde 
and Southampton, where her appearance excited anivecsal 



1 Bat one of Davii'f broibeTS liyed to grow vp. IMbilok Hrnty 
DftTiSi bif lenior bj twestj yean, died in LoQiiiana in IBiSk 



THE INDEPENDENCE 65 

interest. She safled from Boston in May, under tilie 
eonunand of Commodore Nicolson, with Alexander 
Slidell — who afterwards changed his name to Mac- 
kenzie — as first lieutenant. He was the brother of 
the Slidell who was captured in the Trent with Mason, 
and was a man of some literary attainment. Several 
years later he acquired notoriety by his action, while in 
command of the brig JSomerSy in hanging at the yard- 
arm a midshipman and two seamen who were sus- 
pected of mutinous conspiracy. Although acquitted 
by a court martial, the stigma of this act never left 
him, and he was never employed again. Of the other 
lieutenants, — Hoff, Davis, Lardner, Poor, and Strong, 
— all lived to attain the highest rank in the navy. 
The purser of the ship was Thomas Breese, who enjoyed 
a wider popularity, and was perhaps more universally 
beloved, than any man in the service. The ship was a 
veiy happy and harmonious one. On the passage out, 
the presence of the ladies of Mr* Dallas's family lent 
an agreeable novelty to the orcCnaiy dullness of rour 
tine on board a man-of-war. 

Davis's journal is full of enthusiastic descriptions of 
travel in England, and the wonders of London, which 
he visited while the ship was at Southampton, travel- 
ing in what were almost the last days of that famous 
mode of conveyance, the English post chaise. While 
he was in London the king (William lY.) died, and he 
witnessed the ceremony of proclaiming the young queen 
at Saint James's and in the city. He took special 
delight in the opera, and, as he had a fine and di»- 
criminating taste in music, his criticisms are extremely 



66 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

interesting and veiy graphic. The Italian opera reached 
the yeiy summit of its existence at this time in Lon- 
don, and Davis is not the only critic who has grown 
enthusiastic in describing the opera in 1837. It is 
noticeable that the death of the king closed the thea- 
tres and places of amusement for only two or three 
nights^ so that Davis had plenty of opportunity for 
this diversion. The gpreatest stars of the Italian lyric 
world were congregated in London, — Pasta (somewhat 
past her prime), Grisi, Lablache, Bubini, Tamburini, 
and the famous dancer, Taglioni. 

After leaving England the ship went to Cronstadt. 
•To quote from the journal : — 

We were obliged to stop twenly-fonr hours at Copenhagen 
for a wind. Taking in two new pilots, one for the Grronnds 
and another for the Baltic, we left there on the 28d (July). 
Gh)ing over the Gbounds there was only 24 feet of water in a 
place of some extent. The ship, trimmed to an even keel, 
drew 22 feet 4 inches, so that we had but litUe to spare. 
The air was perfectly calm and the sea as smooth as glass ; 
notwithstanding, she touched, by the awkwardness of the 
pilot, and the dif&cully of steering with a steamboat very 
improperly ahead instead of alongside. . . . The shock was 
a slight one and haidly impeded the ship's way. When the 
shoal water was passed, the steamboat left us and we made 
saiL At the mouth of the Gulf of Finland we encountered 
a Bussian fleet of nine sail of the line upon their regular 
summer tour of exercise. . • • On Sunday the 29th, at 8 
o'clock in the morning, the ship anchored at Cronstadt. 

At daylight our arrival was telegraphed to St. Petersburg, 
and at nine o'clock we were surprised by the intelligence that 
the Emperor intended to visit the ship in the course of the 



THE INDEFEKDENCE 67 

morning. Owing to the fatigues of the previous nighti and 
the state of some parts of the rigging that required immediate 
refitting, the people had not been called up at the usual early 
hour to dean the decks. They were not only not washed, but 
tar in use aloft had stained them, and they looked altogether 
worse than they had done at any time since fitting out It 
could not certainly have been anticipated that His Imperial 
Majesty the Autocrat of all the Bussias would resign his 
state and come on board a strange ship of war in the charac- 
ter of attendant to his own servants, without giving notice 
and allowing time for preparation. We were very much 
mortified at the condition of the vesseL We had hoped to 
show her off in a becoming state of beauty and order. As it 
was, we had only to make such hasty provision for His 
Majesty's reception as the time allowed. At about ten the 
Imperial steamboat emerged from the crowded neighborhood 
of the mole, and stood toward a Danish frigate that had 
arrived on the same morning. No standard or badge indi- 
cated the presence of the Emperor. Erom the Danish frigate 
she approached us. A boat crowded with uniforms left her. 
In the coxswain-box, filling the place and doing the duiy of 
steersman, stood a noble figure in plain citizen's frock and 
white cap, who was designated by the American consul on 
board as the Emperor Nicholas. When the boat came along- 
side the suite passed over the gangway first and received the 
appropriate honors. His Majesty followed the very last, and 
turning directly forward, with a careless salute to the quarter- 
deck, he was lost in the intricacies of the ship. No one 
attended him. He looked at the forecastle and put some 
questions to the boatswidn. I saw him next on the main- 
deck ; he had chosen the side not usually shown to visitors, 
and was prying into whatever attracted him with searching 
curiosity. He made the same solitary, scrutinizing tour of 
the berth and orlop decks, including the officers' apartments. 
In the ward-room he spoke to the steward, and noticed Mrs. 



68 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

Dallas's veiy beaatifal baby with affeotioDate kindness. His 
intimate aequaintanoe with ships of war enabled him to pass 
tfaroogh evety part of the vessel with the same fadliiy as an 
officer. Finally he appeared upon the poop-deck, leaning 
against the trysail mast in an attitude eyidently studied to 
display his manly and symmetrical person. Here he re- 
mained during an examination of the percussion locks, and 
when it was over he went up to Count Nesselrode, raised his 
hand to his cap in the manner of an inferior officer reporting 
to a superior, and sprang hastily over the side. The suite 
followed. It consisted of Count Nesselrode and other civil 
officers of the gOTemment, and several of the most distin- 
guished admirals. The incognito which the Emperor had 
chosen he was carefully permitted to retain. Excepting the 

'^ Eztraordiiisiy gaie 
Snoh as is bent on suilike nugMty 
When it shines seldom in admiring eyeSy^ 

which certainly might be excused to the wondering simplicity 
of republicans, he was troubled with no token of recognition, 
but quietly and unobserved suffered to pursue his own way as 
much as if his assumed unimportance had been reaL We 
were afterwards told that, when he discovered that he had 
been known, he fuUy appreciated this delicacy. The officers 
of the Danish frigate were not aware of his presence until we 
manned yards on his return to the steamboat, hoisted the 
Bussian flag at the main masthead, and announced it in a 
voice of thunder to the harbor by a salute of forty-one guns 
from our main-deck thirty-two pounders. The Emperor 
hoisted the American flag at the mainmast of the yacht, and 
returned the salute with an equal number of guns, and then, 
throwing off all further disguise, he unfurled the Imperial 
standard. The Danish frigate, the forts, and ten or fifteen 
Bussian men-of-war, scattered in the spacious roadstead far 
and near, woke the echoes of the distant shores with mingling 
bursts of 



THE £I!n>EP£NDENCE 60 

It was the custom of the Emperor Nicholas to visit 
every foreign vessel of war in person, to learn from 
each such improvements in naval matters as might be 
adopted in his own navy, and the visit, as in this case, 
was generally made incognito. In this instance it was 
followed by an invitation to the of&cers, in the Emper- 
or's name, to attend the private opera at Feterhoff on 
the following evening, and to look at the groimds* 
Davis, with others of the officers, accepted this invita- 
tion. The performance was a French vaudeville, and 
he naively remarks: ^' My chief amusement was to gaze 
about in this new scene. French vaudevilles I had 
seen before, but this was my first appearance, and I 
feared it would be my last, within the sacred precincts 
of an imperial court." 

During the stay of the ship at Cronstadt the officers 
vifflted St. Petersburg, but there was nothing of special 
interest connected with this visit, and only one extract 
from the journal is worth preserving : — 

We afterwards drove to the Admiralty, the headquarters 
of the navy. It is a low building of iirnneuBe eictent, perhaps 
six hundred feet, beautified in front by a row of trees. • • • 

A long hall contains a large store of nautical and mathe- 
matical instnunentSy compasses, sextants, charts, etc, etc. 
They were caiefnlly and systematically arranged, and indeed 
all we saw at the Admiraliy confirmed the impression that 
evexyilung relating to the department, both here and at 
Cronstadt, is conducted with perfect order and upon a fixed 
system. . . . The plan, I am inclined to think, extends itself 
diroughont the active service of the navy, and embraces the 
minatest details, so that the daily and ordinary duties of a 
man-of-war, the practice (?) of evolutions and the precise 



70 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

forms of discipline, are explicitly laid down. This partioa- 
larity is in part a necessity, arising oat of the forced and 
exotic nature of the navy. Despotism has determined to 
create a marine without the usual materials; therefore it 
wisely selects the most approved forms of practice in the best 
countries, and lays them down as instructions not to be vio* 
lated. It provides a perfect uniformity, but represses genius. 
It is making bricks without straw, but making them in the 
best manner possible. This extreme minuteness was very 
much admired by some of the officers. It seems to me to be 
more becoming to the Bussian navy than to our own. The 
former has no commerce as a school for seamen, and no 
naval genius, speaking with regard to the nation. It must 
educate everybody, the forecastleman and the post-captain, 
and even go so far as to originate, if this were possible, the 
sentiments and predilections that belong to the service. The 
case is directly the reverse with us, who are preeminently a 
naval people. The scheme which best applies to us is that 
which, being thoroughly comprehensive, embraces heads and 
principles chiefly, and leaves the active details to be filled up 
by the governing mind, regulated by the custom which must 
be a universally required law of a practical and active service 
like our own. This is the English system ; it is only neces- 
sary to refer to history for its success. It would be some- 
what ridiculous to explain to an American commander how 
to sail his vessel, how to tack ship and reef topsails, etc. 
The commissioners for the revisal of the naval code lately 
attempted something of this kind, and terminated their labors 
by a thorough failure and disgrace. In another respect the 
Bussian navy has a great advantage over us, in being con- 
trolled by a single and permanent wilL With us the Secre- 
tary is constantly changing, and with him the orders and 
plans of the department. An indifference and want of zeal 
is a mournful consequence of this instability. 



THE INDEPENDENCE 71 

The writer did not survive to know that in less than 
sixty years the position would be reversed^ and that 
his veiy language might be to-day the criticism of a. 
Russian on the navy of the United States. 

The Independence left Cronstadt on the 13th of 
August, and, after a boisterous and protracted passage 
of fourteen days, anchored at Copenhagen. Davis's 
journal might be quoted at length for an account of 
this veiy interesting visit to the Danish capital ; but as 
his remarks are general rather than personal, they might 
be out of place and tedious in the present connection. 
The ship left Copenhagen on September 6th, and, en- 
countering constant and heavy head winds, anchored 
at Spithead on the 20th. From here she sailed on the 
29th for the coast of Brazil, touching at Madeira on 
the passage out. In leaving Spithead, the Ind^end' 
ence had a trial of speed with H. B. M. frigate Piques 
and, much to the mortification of the officers, was 
beaten ; but she sailed from Madeira in company with 
another British ship, the Wellesley, seventy-four, flag- 
ship of the East India squadron, which had the repu- 
tation of being a good sailer, and the British admiral, 
tempted probably by the success of the Pigtie, offered 
a trial of speed. She was easily beaten by the Inde- 
pendencey and the next morning could be discerned far 
astern, only as a speck on the horizon. The Pique 
was a new ship, built after the design of a talented 
constructor, who added several very fast vessels to the 
British navy. 

For the rest of the cruise of the Indq>endence little 
need be said. The journal ends at Madeira. We 



72 CHABLE8 HENBY DAYIS 

catch an occadonal glimpse of tiie ship and her officers 
in contemporary letters. One officer/ a midshipman on 
board, wrote long after : ^^ When we arrived at Bio de 
Janeiro, Lientenant C. H. Davis, a fine sailor, and the 
officer whom the men most admired, had the deck. A 
moderate land breeze was blowing, and the entrance 
was narrow and dangerous, but the commodore deter- 
mined to attempt the difficult feat of beating into port. 
Davis handled the ship beautifully, and the men sprang 
with alacrity at the sound of his voice. It was well 
that they were quick, for hardly would the sails be 
trimmed on one tack before the ordei, ^ Beady, about I ' 
would be given for the other. Shortly after getting 
through the narrow part of the entrance the sea breeze 
made, and, squaring our yards, we stood up to the an- 
chorage, making a flying moor. This was indeed skill- 
ful seamanship, and excited the admiration of all the for- 
eign sailors in port. Barely had a vessel so large as 
the Independence accomplished this evolution. It was 
a lesson to the midshipmen that they never forgot."^ 

During a gpreat part of this cruise the ship remained 
in the Biver Plate, protecting American interests in 
the state of war which existed between the Argentine 
Confederation and England, France, and Brazil. The 
famous Bosas was dictator, and Buenos Ayres was 
closely blockaded by a French fleet. 

^ The Ute Bear Admixal Thamas H. Stetens. 

' niii eTolotum was ezeented lepeatedly on Uia aame giomidf ihongh 
with a BmaUer ihip, by the sloop of war Portgmoulk^ Commander A. A. 
Semmes, daring two yean in which the anther served on board that 
Tessel on the Brazil station. The PoriMmouQi also aooomplished the sorn^ 
what more diiBeolt feat of beating oot of Bio against the sea breeie. 



TH£ INDEPENDENCE 73 

The ship fell in with the Wilkes Exploring Expedi- 
tion here. Davis corresponded reg^ularly with Peirce 
during this cruise, and the Independence returned to 
the United States and was paid off in April, 1840. 



CHAPTER V 

THE COAST BUBYET AND THE NAX7TIGAL ALBCANAO 

The end of the cruise of the Ind^endence marks 
the close of what may be considered as Davis's early 
career in the naval service. He had now been seven- 
teen years in the navy and almost constantly at sea, 
when, by the operation of the system then in vogue, he 
might look forward to a long period of inactivity. The 
system, or want of system, in our naval organization, 
has been characterized by short periods of great ac- 
celeration, followed by long periods of stagnation in 
the flow of promotion. Davis entered the service just 
in time to suffer by the stagnation following the rapid 
promotions during the last war with Great Britain. 
Moreover, employment on shore for naval officers was 
an ahnost unknown thing ; at least, there was no reg^ular 
shore duty for officers ; neither could an officer claim, 
of right, employment on shore. The first official recog^ 
nition of shore duty as a legitimate employment was 
made in general orders in 1868, assigning a fixed 
period to sea service, to be followed by a similar period 
of shore duty, alternating with each other through an 
officer's whole active career, and marking in itself the 
first step in the decadence of the navy which followed 



THE COAST SURVEY 76 

tile ciyil 'wbx. In 1840 tiiere were veiy few places for 
naval oflcers on shore, and those who had tiiem were 
apt to hold on to them, as the principle of rotation was 
not recog^nized, so that a lieutenant, of eight or ten 
years' standing, at the end of a cruise found himself in 
a position to do pretiy much whatever he pleased* His 
place on board ship was wanted by younger men, 
and promotion was still a long way ahead. With 
perhaps the exception of a cruise as first lieutenant, 
the professional prospect for years to come was one 
of forced inactivity. Under such circumstances, many 
active and intelligent officers turned their attention 
to the coast survey, which was now just beginning to 
advance from a position of insignificance to one of 
the greatest importance. When the Independence was 
paid off, Davis returned to Cambridge and resumed 
his mathematical studies with Peirce, and took his 
degree at Harvard. He served for a short time at 
the naval rendezvous in Boston, and in April, 1842, 
was appointed an assistant on the coast survey, and 
for a period of fifteen years he had veiy little con- 
nection with the active duties of the navy. 

The United States Coast Survey ^ was first established 
by an act of Congress passed in 1807. At that time 
the only charts of our own coast were based upon for* 
eign surveys, and many of them were foreign compila- 
tions. Upon the passage of the act above* referred to, 

' The article " Coast Surrey," in the American CyeUtpoBdia^ and the 
reports of the superintendent are the authorities for this hrief sketch of 
the snnrej. 



76 CHABLES HENBT DAYIS 

the Secretary of the Treastuy addressed letters to sev^ 
eral scientific men, calling for plans as to the best 
methods of executing the soryej. The plan proposed 
by Mr. Hassler was the one adopted^ Hasder was a 
native of Switzerland, and had been employed in the 
trigonometrical survey of his own coimtry. The fact 
that the plan for the United States Coast Survey should 
have originated with and been first executed by a for- 
rigner gives a strikmg fllustration of the lack of sciea- 
tific knowledge in this coimtry. Hassler was sent to 
Europe in 1811 for the purpose of procuring the neces- 
sary instruments and standards of measore, and, owing 
to the war with England, he was detained abroad, and 
did not get home imtil 1815. In 1817 he was for- 
mally appointed superintendent of the survey, and the 
labors in the field commenced by the measurement of 
a base line on the Hudson in the same year. Before 
he could publish the results of his first season's work, 
however, the survey was effectually discontinued by an 
act of Congress repealing that ]>art of the law which 
authorized the employment of astronomers, and persons 
other than officers in the army and navy, in the prose- 
cution of the work. From this time, for seventeen 
years, the survey languished, being carried on only 
spasmodically and without a definite, comprehensive 
plan, by officers of both services acting imder their own 
departments and independently of each other. In 1828 
the Secretary of the Navy again called the attention of 
Congress to the paramount necessity of a comprehen- 
sive survey of the coast in accordance with the plan of 
1807. The increasing commerce of our ports made 



THE COAST SUEVEY 77 

this a vital and pressiiig necessity. Independent sor- 
veys made by naval officers had been carried on without 
definite plan^ and with insufficient means both of time 
and money, and had resulted only in confusion. The 
results of these surveys were characterized by the Sec- 
retary of the Navy himself as ^^ unsaf e, and, in many 
instances, useless and pernicious.'' In reply to the 
question ^^ whether, in the opinion of the department, 
such survey ought to be made," the Secretary replied : 
<' Upon this point no doubt is entertained. It is called 
for by regard to our commercial and naval interests, 
and to our means of national defense." In 1832 the 
law of 1807 was revived, the employment of ^^ astro- 
nomers and other persons " was again authorized, and 
Hassler once more submitted the same plan which had 
been adopted in 1816. In August of that year he was 
again appointed to the head of the survey, and this 
date marks the real beginning of the institution as it 
now exists. Hassler died in 1843. Some mistrust 
appears to have attached to his earlier work, for in the 
first years of the survey much time was lost in pro- 
tracted congressional investigations, and in such methods 
of supervision and inspection as Hassler resented as 
insulting to himself. He had given the whole prime 
of his life to a patient effort to establish and sustain 
the survey, and the methods of primary and secondary 
triangulation proposed in his original plan are substan- 
tially the same as those employed at the present day. 
Hassler was succeeded by Professor A. D. Bache, who 
remained at the head of the survey for twenty-three 
years, and brought to the work great scientific ezpe- 



78 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

rience and ability. Under Bache the scope of the 
survey was extended to nearly its present proportions, 
for he recognized the far-reaching requirements of the 
plan, and systemized the work to embrace the whole 
range of related practical sciences* Astronomy, geod- 
esy mathematics, geology, natural history, and the 
physical sciences of electricity and photography, as well 
as the mechanical arts necessary in supplying instru- 
ments, — all these are related either directly or indirectly 
to the practical work of the survey, and go hand in 
hand with topography, hydrography, drawing, engrav- 
ing, and printing, in the formation of charts for the 
use of navigators, and in the compilation of sailing 
directions. Professor Bache was succeeded in 1867 
by Professor Benjamin Peirce, who further extended 
the survey to include the triangulation of the continent, 
so that the institution became the Coast and Geodetic 
Survey of the United States. 

At the beginning of the active life of the coast sur- 
vey in 1832, science in America may be said to have 
been almost non-existent. That it should have been 
necessaiy to go abroad to find a superintendent for the 
work is a sufficient evidence of the truth of this asser- 
tion. American science was unknown abroad. The 
lives of the pioneers of scientific work in this country 
show early struggles against public indifference and 
obstacles which were almost insurmountable. The 
coast survey was the first of the great scientific de- 
partments of the government, and, with the Smith- 
sonian Institution, it did more to foster the growth of 
knowledge and stimulate research than any other gov- 



THE COAST SUKVEY 79 

ernment establishment has ever done before or since. 
The workers in the field of science were a mere handful. 
Under the fostering care of the scientific establishments 
in yarioos departments of the government^ they have 
multiplied to a throng ; and to the coast survey itself 
belongs the honor of the beginning. Speaking on this 
subject, a writer on the history of the Smithsonian 
Institution ^ for the first half century of its existence 
says : ^^ The history of the Smithsonian Institution is 
practically coextensive with the history of the Naval 
Observatory, organized in 1842, and with that of the 
Coast and Geodetic Survey, as reorganized in 1843. • . . 
The interest taken by Joseph Henry in the progress of 
the more abstruse mathematical theories of astronomy 
and geodesy forms a noteworthy feature of his annual 
reports. These reports show that the Institution was 
in touch with the ablest mathematicians of the country, 
and that no branch of their science was so abstract as 
to be beyond the recognition and aid of the Secretary. 
It seems strange, in the present day of open avenues to 
the publication of meritorious works, that at a time less 
than fifty years ago there should have been difficulty 
in finding a publisher for so great a treatise as Professor 
Benjamin Feirce's ^ Analytical Mechanics.' Still more 
strange does it appear that the cooperation of the 
Smithsonian Institution with the Navy Department 
should have been essential to secure the publication of 
so important a work as Davis's translation of Gauss's 

1 The Simthamian IntiUuHon, 1846-1896, edited by George Brown 
Goode, ariiole ** MathematioSi" by Bobert Simpson Woodward. 



m CHABLES HENBT DATIS 

^ Theoria Motm C oiponun Godestnim.' ^ But pabfish^ 
en in tiboee days found Utiie demand f or^ and Ims 
profit in^ contributions to knowledge. Seienoe as such 
had not yet been leoognind by tiie coIlegeBy and there 
were onfy a &w men, moetfy in the EaBtem States^ who 
fonnd in their sorronndingB any enconiagement to 
their devotion to abstract stadies. Siven &b govern* 
ment bnreans^ like the Naval Observatory, the ' Naoti- 
cal Almanac^ Office, and the Coast and Geodetic [sic] 
Survey, had not yet reached an independent footing 
in r^ard to the publication of researches indispensable 
to the progress of their work." 

When Davis joined the coast survey as an asastant, 
tiie work so far accomplished included only New York 
Bay and the neighboring shores of Long Island and 
New Jersey. In tiitd reorganization of the work in 
1843, the whole coast was divided into sections which 
were placed in charge of separate parties, and the 
hydrography of harbors and offshore work was inr 
trusted to naval officers. It would be tedious to recite, 
in chronological detail, the events of Davis's life during 
tiie seven years in which he remained attached to the 
survey. From April, 1842, to July, 1849, he was 
almost constantly employed on this service, the inter- 
ruptions being unimportant and infrequent. His first 
work was an investigation of the velocity and direc* 
tion of the tides in New York harbor and Long Island 
Sound, and the study of the currrait of the Oulf 

^ Tbe traiulatioii of the Tktona MoHu wu made wbile Daris was at 
the head of the Nautical Ahnanae^ and pabliahed while he was at sea, in 
1307. 



THE COAST SUBYET 81 

Stream and the tides and currents of the Nantucket 
Shoals. His work in this connection led to his fre* 
quent employment on commissions to examine the prin- 
cipal harbors; and he served, not only at this time 
but subsequently, as a permanent member of several 
harbor commissions both at the North and South. He 
also made a special study of the tides in Hell Gktte, and 
prepared a plan for deepening the channel and re- 
moving obstructions, for which, in 1848, he received 
the thanks of the New York Chamber of Commerce. 
These labors led to a general study of the laws of 
tidal action, in which he made valuable additions to 
knowledge, and was led to the adoption of original and 
striking views, which are embodied in his ^^ Memoir 
upon the Geological Action of the Tidal and Other 
Currents of the Ocean," ^ and in his ^^ Law of Deposit 
of the Mood Tide."^ These publications made his 
name known as a scientific investigator and an hydro- 
grapher of skill; and their, object was to exhibit the 
law of relation between the tidal currents of the sea 
and the alluvial deposits on its borders, showing that 
this law had contributed in past ages, and is still oper- 
ating, to affect the growth of continents and the modi- 
fication of their forms. He also undertook a general 
discussion of the tidal observations of the whole survey, 
and, working with Hampton Boads as a base, carried 
on the discussions to include the effects of the moon's 
parallax and declination, eliminating which the fluctua- 
tions caused by atmospheric changes appear as residual 



^ Memoirt Ameriean Aeademjf^ Kew Series, toL It. 
* SmUkMonian CimtrOnOiotm to KnowUdge^ toL iiL 



82 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

errors. This work was performed under the direct 
supervision of the superintendent himself ^ who says : ^ 
^^ The effect of changes of pressure and of winds upon 
the curve of height is already apparefkt. While the 
accumulation of these observations enables us to pro- 
ceed in the successive steps of their complete discussion 
towards a prediction tide-table, the new observations 
under the immediate direction of lieutenant-Command- 
ant Davis are made to pass through the previous stages 
of reduction. I have also availed myself of lieutenant- 
Commandant Davis's personal labors to make a prelimi- 
nary discussion of the tide wave in Long Island Sound." 
In 18i4cf on the reorganization of the survey under 
Professor Bache, Davis was placed in charge of the 
hydrography of the eastern section, from Fassama- 
quoddy Bay to Point Judith, embracing the coasts of 
Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode 
Island. Besides the survey of several harbors, the 
principal one of which was Boston, Davis's work on 
this section was almost entirely on the Nantucket 
Shoals. It seems extraordinary to realize that until 
fifty years ago these shoals had never been surveyed, 
and that the position of the principal dangers in the 
usual track of vessels was laid down on the chart on 
the report of fishermen, traders, and coast pilots, while 
other shoals, still more dangerous because their exist- 
ence was not even suspected, had never been reported, 
and were consequentiy uncharted. The almost imme- 
diate result of a systematic survey was the discovery 
of the New South Shoal, which for many years bore 

^ Report ofihe SigperintenderUj November, 1847. 



THE COAST SURVEY 88 

Davis's name. This discoveiy called forth letters of 
acknowledgment from the boards of underwriters of 
Boston and New York, and Davis himself says of it : 
<^ Many good ships, never heard of, have been wrecked 
here, and their scattered remains, carried to sea by 
the currents, have sunk there and afforded no clue to 
their loss. The President, steam packet, it will be 
recollected, was seen hereabouts for the last time." 
Now this shoal is marked by the South Shoal Light- 
ship, which lies farther o£E shore than any light-ship on 
the coast. The work on Nantucket Shoals continued 
from season to season as long as Davis remained on 
the survey, and the whole extent of the shoals was 
accurately surveyed. Many new dangers were discov- 
ered and laid down, and a study made of the set of 
the tides and currents. 

While engaged in the investigation of the current of 
the Gulf Stream, Davis commanded the brig Wash- 
ington, and for the offshore work on Nantucket 
Shoals and the hydrography of the eastern section he 
commanded successively the schooner Gallatin and the 
steamer Bihh. Hydrographic surveying was carried on 
only in the summer season, but the winters were occu- 
pied in reducing observations, and particularly in the 
work on the tides and Hell Gate ; and there were fre- 
quent journeys along the coast as far south as Florida, 
in company with the superintendent^ and in connection 
with the several harbor commissions, of which they 
were both members ; and to Washington for consulta- 
tions at the Coast Survey Office. In this way an inti- 
macy sprung up between Bache and Davis which lasted 



84 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

imtfl the f onner's death in 1867. In his frequent visits 
to Washington he generally stayed with Bache at the 
Coast Surrey Office, or with Henry at the Smithsonian 
Institution, with whom his scientific work had also 
brought him into dose intimacy. Davis was one of 
the trusted and responsible officers of the survey, and 
in fact, during the latter part of his connection with 
the survey, he was almost constantly in consultation 
with the superintendent on matters relating not only 
to the internal policy of the work, but in defending 
and supporting the institution in its relations with 
Congress ; for, like other new undertakings, it was mis- 
understood, and was more than once made the object 
of attack. On one of these occasions Davis was brought 
into close relations with Jefferson Davis, who had un- 
dertaken the defense of the coast survey in the Senate. 
Davis's connection with the survey ceased in 1819, and 
although in no way required, either by custom or by 
official courtesy, the superintendent wrote to the secre- 
tary of the treasury : ^^ The official reports of the pro- 
gress of the coast survey have, from time to time, 
brought the name of Lieutenant Davis very promi- 
nently before the department, as marked by all the 
qualities which insure distinction in such a work. The 
loss of his services will be deeply felt. The zeal, in- 
dustry, knowledge, and judgment, ripened by expe- 
rience, which he has brought to the survey, cannot 
soon be replaced. They have conferred upon it some 
of its most decided daims to usefulness and public 
approval." The hydrography of the coast survey has 
been carried on by naval officers since the beginning. 



THE COAST SURVEY S5 

and many have been connected with the survey, first 
and last; but the work has now taken on something 
of a routine character, while it was Davis's good for- 
tune to enter the service of the survey when there 
was still a wide field open for original investigation 
and diBCOveiy, and when the number of original scien- 
tific workers in the whole country was comparatively 
smalL His real talents were developed in a perfectly 
wholesome and congenial atmosphere. 

About this time several young Grerman officers were 
in the navy of the United States, serving on board 
our ships for the purpose of learning their profession ; 
for the kingdom of Prussia was beginning a naval 
policy, and like Russia in 1837, having no naval ma- 
terial at home, was studying the best naval methods 
abroad. The choice of the United States navy as a 
model was natural enough, as our ships and service 
had a very high reputation for efficiency, and our coun* 
try was the one great power having no interests in the 
continental politics of Europe. A Prussian commis- 
sioner was in Washing^n to study naval organization, 
and with powers to propose to the Navy Department 
the selection of an American officer to take charge 
of the organization of the Prussian navy. Davis was 
named by Commodore M. C. Perry, to whom the ques- 
tion had been referred, as the officer best qualified for 
this appointment. But the negotiation, if indeed it 
ever amounted to so much, fell through. Davis cer- 
tainly never sought the place, and stood in a perfectly 
passive attitude, and it is only mentioned in his letters 
from Washington in the spring of 1849 as a sugges- 



86 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

tion of Commodore Perry's* Indeed, Davis's heart 
was in his scientific work, in which he had become 
thoroughly engrossed. 

The question of a natiomJ prime meridian ^ a 
long vexed one, which was only finally settled by legis- 
lation in 1855. Seamen generally favored adhesion to 
the meridian of Grreenwich, to which they were accus- 
tomed, and to which their charts, and for many years 
thereafter the charts which they used abroad, referred. 
But the work of the coast survey had brought out 
very clearly the necessity for a national ephemeris, 
which should take the place of and improve upon the 
^^ British Nautical Almanac ; " and Davis threw the whole 
weight of his influence and energy into the accom- 
plishment of this purpose. He was seconded by Bache 
and Henry, and by Maury, the superintendent of the 
Naval Observatory. The result of their labors was the 
establishment in July, 1849, of the ^^ American Ephem- 
eris and Nautical Almanac," and Davis was placed in 
charge of the work, and, by a wise provision of the 
department, left absolutely unfettered in its execution. 
Perhaps no one achievement of his life has entitled 
him to higher fame, or has left a more lasting impres- 
sion. The author of the ^^ Biographical Memoir " for 
the American Academy ^ says of the Almanac : ^^ The 
establishment of this work was urged by its projectors, 
and especially by Lieutenant Davis (the prime mover 
in the undertaking), with two motives: first, to ad- 
vance the scientific character and standing of the 
country by a publication of the highest order from a 

^ Proceeding of ike Amtrican Academy ofArU and Sciences, toI. xiL 



THE NAUTICAL ALMANAC 87 

scientific point of view ; and^ secondly, to promote the 
cause of astronomy itself, and render substantial ser- 
vices to navigation by producing a work on a higher 
plane than the ^ British Nautical Almanac,' fully con- 
formed to the latest developments of knowledge, and 
likely to give an additional stimulus to pure research. 
To carry out this ambitious plan, with the revision of 
the solar, lunar, and planetary tables, and of various 
points of astronomical theory which it involved, it was 
necessary to enlist in the work the ablest mathematical 
astronomers of the country, and at the same time to 
teain op a body of yon^ computers, and to inspire 
them not only with the spirit of numerical accuracy, 
but with the true love of science and desire to advance 
it. To this arduous but most interesting task Davis 
brought his admirable judgment and his fine scientific 
talents, together with that fortunate temperament which 
eadly united yarious men in loyalty to one enterprise, 
and that generosity of nature which thought only of 
doing the work in the best manner, and gladly gave 
the freest possible play to others' individuality. The 
first volume of the ^ Ephemeris ' appeared in 1852, and 
was very favorably received on both sides of the At- 
lantic ; and it may be safely said that, except the coast 
surve;,of which tiie vast scope of course gives it pre- 
eminence, no scientific work which has been carried on 
in this country has redounded more largely to the 
national credit. 'The policy adopted in the newly 
formed office,' writes one who was familiar with it. and 
whose judgment is authoritative, 'though not in all 
respects to be permanentiy imitated as a piece of 



88 CHARLES HENEY DAYIB 

administrative machinery^ was sach as to make it a 
more efficient promoter of mathematical astronomy in 
this country than any organization we have ever had. 
Toung men of talent were looked for from all quarters^ 
were employed without regard to personal or political 
influence^ were paid according to their efficiency, and 
were encouraged to engage in any branch of mathe- 
matical or astronomical research which would tend to 
improve the Almanac. In the work of the office there 
was a freedom from discipline and restraint, which, 
though it might work badly under other circumstances, 
was very favorable to the development of a school of 
mathematicians. Besides men like Peirce and Walker,^ 
who had attained eminence before becoming connected 
with the office, the names of President Runkle, Pro- 
fessors Winlock and Newcomb, Chauncey Wright, and 
William Ferrel may be cited as representatives of the 
men who were first brought out through their connec- 
tion with the Nautical Almanac.' " 

Those who engage in useful scientific pursuits, and 
particularly those who follow astronomy and the exact 
sciences, need have no misgivings as to fame. Not in 
the lifetime of the laborer perhaps, but sooner or 
later, honor comes ; for their works are embalmed in 
the chronicles of exact truth. Speaking of the precise 
measurements of practical astronomy. Sir John Her- 
schel says : ^ ^^ The brazen circle with which that useful 
work was done may moulder, the marble pillar totter 
on its base, and the astronomer himself survive only 

^ Sean C. Wa&er. a 

> IfUrodtieUon to the B. A. C^ 6cL 1846, p. 6. 



THE NAUTICAL ALMANAC 89 

in the gratitude of his posterity; but the record re- 
mains, and transfuses all its own exactness into every 
determination which takes it for a groundwork." The 
^^ Nautical Almanac" stands a monument to Davis's 
scientific skill, more enduring than brass or marble. 

The ^^ Nautical Almanac " office was established in 
Cambridge, for the advantages which could only be 
derived from the proximity of the University, in the 
immediate availabilify of mathematical talent, as well as 
for the benefits of the library, which had been enriched 
by Nathaniel Bowditch, and his own private library, 
which was still accessible to students. The theoretical 
department of the work was placed under the special 
direction of Professor Peirce, and most of the calcula- 
tions passed under his final revision. During the years 
of Davis's connection with the coast survey and ^^ Naur 
tical Almanac," Cambridge continued to be his abode. 
He married, in 1842, Harriette Blake, the youngest 
daughter of the Hon. Elijah Hunt Mills, of North- 
ampton, some time United States senator from Massa- 
chusetts. Mr. Mills died in 1829, in the prime of life, 
but his widow survived to extreme old age, a woman 
of distinguished personality and most charming char^ 
acter, who made her home in Cambridge, living some- 
times with one married daughter and sometimes with 
the other. The older Miss Mills had married Benjamin 
Peirce. In 1846 Davis built a house on Quincy Street, 
between Cambridge Street and Broadway, which is now 
the property of &e tJniversity. At that time Quincy 
Street was a new street, and it was not accepted by 
the city until 1852. It was on the very outskirts of 



00 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

Cambridge, though it formed one boundary of the Col- 
lege Yard. Beyond it^ to the eastward, the meadows 
stretched in unbroken undulations to East Cambridge 
and the marshes, and there were almost no houses be- 
tween Davis's and East Cambridge. From his eastern 
windows the dome of the State House and Castle Wil- 
liam, in the harbor, were conspicuous objects. Settle- 
ment in Cambridge had clustered along the lines of 
Kirkland Street, Brattle Street, Garden Street, Mason 
Street, and about the College Yard and Common. Cam- 
bridgeport, a suburb between Cambridge and the West 
Boston bridge, lay along Main and Harvard streets 
eastward from Dana Hill. Broadway was a country 
lane, and Cambridge Street, as its name implied, led to 
East Cambridge and the Court House and to Craigie's 
bridge. Westward of the terminus of Brattle Street 
was the beautiful country about Mount Auburn, Ar- 
lington, and Fresh Pond, along which stretched the 
Concord Turnpike. The river, most picturesque at 
Watertown, was bordered at Cambridge by broad tide- 
marshes, dotted with big ricks of marsh hay propped 
up on high spiles ; and in winter the river was often 
frozen over solid, and smelt was taken through holes 
cut in the ice. The river was crossed at Cambridge 
by the Brighton bridge, and at Cambridgeport by the 
Brookline bridge, leading to Brookline, Jamaica Pond, 
and West Bozbury, where Mr. Minot, Davis's brother- 
in-kw, and his sons, —who were aknost Davis's con- 
temporaries in age, -had established themselves in a 
beautiful country place of considerable extent. The 
Sunday drives to West Boxbury were a constant source 



THE NAUTICAL ALMANAC 91 

of pleasure in the simple and busy life at Cam- 
bridge* The College Yard^ as it was always familiarly 
called^ was the centre round which the town of Cam- 
bridge clustered ; and if it was wanting in architectural 
pretension, the old buildings in their quiet dignity of 
age, the broad lawns, and the ancient elms in which 
the whole College was embowered, gave a character to 
the place which it has since lost. Diagonally opposite 
from Davis's house was the Delta, — now occupied by 
Memorial Hall, — on which the college games were cel- 
ebrated. Cambridge was a remote suburb of Boston, 
which was only to be reached by private conveyance 
or by the '^hourly," an omnibus of magnificent pro- 
portions which plied between Harvard Square and 
Brattle Street in Boston. During the summers, until 
1849, the offshore work in the GuU Stream and on 
the Nantucket Shoals kept Davis constantly away from 
home; and after the establishment of the Almanac, 
and the more settled life which that work entailed, 
there were stiU frequent excursions down tiie bay with 
the Boston pilots, on duties connected with the Harbor 
Commission, and occasional journeys on similar busi- 
ness to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and the 
South. 

Peirce lived on the opposite side of Quihcy Street, 
in a house which has since been removed to give 
place to Sever Hall, and the two households dwelt 
almost as one. There was the freedom and intimacy 
of intellectual distinction in the social life of Cam- 
bridge at this time, but it is not for the present writer 
to depict it. Abler pens than his have pictured a 



02 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 



condition Arcadian in its mnplicity and ahnort 
unique of its kind ; and merely to enumerate Davis's 
neighbors, friends, and associates in Cambridge would 
be to call the roll of names which belong to the front 
rank in the intellectual life of the country. 

Amidst such congenial surroundings and in such 
peaceful scenes as these the happiest years of a useful 
life were passed, while the clouds of war were gather- 
ing, and the shadows of an irrepressible conflict were 
darkening over the land. But it must not be inferred 
that his social and domestic happiness and the engross- 
ing interest of his work obscured in Davis's mind a 
realization of the political condition of the country. 
The whole intellect of the North watched with keen 
anxiety the development of political events. The 
temper in which it watched was misunderstood. The 
North was very patient and very earnest for the Union, 
and there still existed the deepest veneration for the 
great names which the South had given to history. In 
March, 1852, and for the first time in his life, Davis 
was in Richmond with Maury, on his way to a meet- 
ing of the Harbor Oommission at Charleston, and he 
wrote : ^^ I find that my mind is stirred with strong 
emotions of patriotism by being for the first time in 
the capital of Virginia. Whilst the aspect of every- 
thing is new, the place recalls numberless exciting and 
deep-rooted recollections and associations familiar as 
household words, the very treasures of memory and the 
pride of thought. Richmond brings up the remem- 
brance of Henry, Washington the godlike, Jefferson, 
Madison, and of Marshall and Wirt ^My heart is 



THE NAUTICAL ALMANAC 08 

stirred ' (not ^ idly ') when I consider the things done 
in past times h j these heroes of my own — yes^ stilly 
thank Grodl my own country. They shall ever be 
^freshly remembered.' Our children shall be taught 
to imitate them^ and thus they will be made virtuous 
and useful ; and if virtuous and useful, then happy/' 



CHAPTER VI 

COMMANDEB — TABI0U8 DUTIES — THE SAINT ICABT'S 

In 1853 Davis served with his friend Da Pont as 
superintendent of the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New 
York. He passed the whole summer and autumn in 
this work, and did a great deal towards saving that 
mismanaged enterprise from failure. In recognition 
of the value of his labors he received a handsome ser- 
vice of plate, but he got very little else, except vexa- 
tion,fromit. In 1854, after thirty-one years' service 
and twenty-three years in the grade of lieutenant, he 
was prompted and recrived his conunander's con^is- 
sion, and in 1855 he served as a member of the board 
of visitors at flie Naval Academy at Annapolis. 

It must not be supposed from anything in the pre- 
ceding pages that Davis was himself opposed to a naval 
school as such. On the contrary, he had consistently 
advocated its establishment. He was one of the officers 
consulted in 1845 on the foundation of the Academy, 
and in 1837, on the occasion of the visit of the Inde- 
pendence to Copenhagen, he had examined and de- 
scribed the Danish naval school. He says : ^^ At the 
presentation (to King Frederick YI. of Denmark), the 
subjects of conversation were chiefly professional. His 
Majesty asked Mr. Slidell some question concerning our 



^ COMMANDER 05 

Naval Academy ; and when he was informed that we 
had none^ he exclaimed with great surprise^ ^Cela 
m'^tonne i ' And it certainly is a matter of reason- 
able surprise that while the instructions of every com- 
mander require of him the performance of duties that 
suppose a liberal and general education^ yet no ade- 
quate provision is made for securing the requisite de- 
gree of knowledge and capacity. Men are properly 
trained by early discipline to qualify them for all other 
important offices, or else their ability is fairly tested by 
public competition. But in the navy, on the contrary, 
individuals are left entirely to their own unassisted 
energies to contend against want of means and oppor- 
tunities, to overcome obstacles that may well damp 
common ardor, or yield to the insidious promptings of 
indolence. They must study, if they study at all, with- 
out system and without teachers, or hitch along from 
necessity to necessity. Still, it is universally conceded 

defense." like most self-educated men, Davis had an 
intense appreciation of the advantages of systematic 
training. He admired in the Danish naval school the 
judicious combination of the practical with the academi- 
cal courses of instruction, but he probably, and natu- 
rally, failed to appreciate the enormous advantages 
which were derived from early responsibiUty, and from 
a system which forced incompetent men, if not wholly 
out of service, at least into obscurity and inactivity } 
for in his day the conspicuous leaders of the naval pro- 
fession were as distinctly marked as are those of the 
bar or medicine. He worked earnestly for our own 



M CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

school^ and in his addiess to the graduating class in 
1855 he said: ^^Yonr advantages of education have 
been infinitely superior to anything enjoyed by the 
generation of officers which precedes you« We do not 
envy you your greater good fortune. Quite otherwise : 
we congratulate you upon it. We congratulate our- 
selves that the period of darkness, in which it was 
thought that refinement and cultivation were incom- 
patible with the professional duties of a sea-officer, has 
utterly passed away.'' In 1845 the course at the naval 
school was fixed at five years, of which three years con- 
secutively were passed afloat, and in 1851 the system 
was changed to a four years' course at the school, fol- 
lowed by service at sea; but still the course was de- 
ddedly practical,^ and it is doubtful whether the most 
ardent advocate of early education in the old navy 
would have favored a system which makes a young 
officer familiar with the chemical properties of steel 
and the abstruse theories of magnetism, but leaves him 
in practical ignorance of how to steer a ship, or take 
soundings, or handle a boat in a sea-way or strong tide. 

^ The word is used with the utmost deference to Captain Mahan (lea 
the addzess at the opening of the War College in 1892). Conceding the 
full force of Captain Mahan's argument, it is sabmitted that theory 
becomes good praotiee onl j at the hands of the experienced practician. 
In fact, it is presomed that that is exactly what Captain Mahan means. 
To extend his argument in support of a pnrelj academic training of naval 
officers is a reductio ad ahsvrdum. Taking Captain liahan's own illnstra- 
tion, conld Bonaparte have planned and executed the Marengo campaign 
if he had neyer seen an arm j in the field ? On the field of Austerliti the 
Emperor saw and seized upon a false moTcment on the part of the 
enemy, and turned it to his own instant advantage. Could he have done 

lis if his ''practice " had been confined exdnsively to the dcset ? 



COMMAND£B 97 

The Academy in 1855 ^^as in close touch with the ser- 
yice, and the service at large felt that the school was 
its own^ and working for its own best interests. The 
yearly boards of visitors were composed, as of course 
they should always be, entirely of naval officers of high 
rank, selected for their standing in the service, which 
was still an acknowledged quality. The office was no 
sinecure, as it involved a minute and laborious exam- 
ination of the school and its policy, guided by techni- 
cal professional knowledge. Davis was chosen to de- 
liver the address to the graduating class. The address 
is a model of sound advice and professional wisdom, 
without a trace of pedantry or affectation. It was 
printed at the joint request of the academic board 
and the graduating class, and several members of the 
latter have preserved it to this day, and it is not too 
much to say that it has, to some slight extent perhaps, 
influenced the course of their Uvea. It might command 
a larger share of the listener's attention than the com- 
monplace platitudes of a political orator, when the 
speaker could say : ^^ But if to witness the first scene 
of the entrance into life of young men of ambition and 
education always excites pleasurable emotions, even in 
the general spectator, how much more must we feel with 
regard to you, — we who are united to you by the ties 
of a common profession, which bind us together like 
the ties of marriage, indissoluble but by death ! " The 
experience of this duty was a delightful one to Davis, 
and he wrote : ^^ It has been very satisfactory to me, on 
tins account (among other reasons), that I have been so 
long out of the navy and its society and associations 



98 CHAELES HENRY DAVIS 

that I mighty not nnreasonably^ be thought to have lost 
some of the spirit of tiie profession and some of my 
knowledge of its wants and character. It reunites me 
with the service, from which the pursuits of science 
seemed to have separated me. I have had some very 
flattering things said to me by the officers. . . • The 
great harmony, cordiality, and good feeling which have 
prevailed throughout have produced a decided feeling 
of personal attachment among the members of the 
board, and they give quite a tender character to our 
parting. It was the renewal of my long-suspended 
intercourse with my brother officers which, you know, 
rendered this duty particularly agreeable to me. And 
I have derived from the contact more pleasure, and 
more advantage, than I expected even. I feel as if I 
had been rejuvenated with regard to the service. I 
shall have a great deal to tell you about this. I feel 
and think much more about it than I can possibly put 
on paper. ... I am writing with one of those long- 
handled steel pens of Bache's, which it requires the 
skill of a mountebank to balance." 

During this year and the following, Davis was con- 
stantly away from home, on duties with the Harbor 
Oommission at New York, of which he was a perma- 
nent member, and in frequent consultations with Bache 
in Washington, and with Henry, Maury, General Tot- 
ten (the chief of engineers), with all of whom he was 
associated on boards and commissions relating to similar 
matters. He also elaborated his plan for the improve- 
ment of Hell Gate, which was adopted by the commis- 
sioners, and for which he received, as has been noted. 



VABIOUS DUTIES 09 

the thanks of the New Tork Chamber of Commeree. 
In fact, he was an exceedingly busy man. His scien- 
tific reputation was an established fact, and his services 
were in constant demand. But there was another sub- 
ject in which his interest was equally engrossed, namely, 
naval reform, and the retiring board of 1855. He was 
not a member of the board, but he was summoned to 
Washington to meet Du . Font, who bore nearly the 
whole brunt of the odium which the board suffered as 
a consequence of its action, and together they managed 
the defense in the bitter attacks which were directed 
against the board, and against Du Pont especialiy'^ in 
Congress. In this connection he writes : ^^ Maush 10, 
1856. Yesterday, after dinner, I came up to Du Font's, 
who lives in this part of the eify, and I remained with 
him till half past ten o'clock. We fought over all the 
battles of the navy. He had a great deal to tell me, 
and I had something to tell him. If you are worried 
now by the little difficulties I have to contend with, 
and those not personal, I don't know what you would 
do if I were in Du Font's situation. The feeling against 
the board is, I may almost say, concentrated upon hii^. 
He sustains himself perfectly, wonderfully. I have 
never had more cause to admire his courage and strength 
of character than now, when he is beset with enemies 
and difficulties. He has numerous friends, however, 
and some good ones." 

In November, 1856, Davis was offered a command 
at sea, which of course he accepted, as he wrote: 
^^ When the secretary offered me a command yesterday, 
it was an alternative; the other choice was to give 



100 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

up all desire for a command^ and to resign the active 
service." He might have remained indefinitely at the 
head of the ^^ Nautical Almanac," as Maury remained 
indefinitely at the Ohservatory ; hut he could not eon- 
template a situation which obliged him to forego all 
hope of promotion, and resign the active life of the 
profession. He had fully expected a command since his 
promotion. He was therefore appointed to the Saint 
Marj/^8, sloop of war, on the Pacific station, his old 
cruising ground. He sailed from New York in the 
steam frigate WabasJi, carrying out the relief officers 
and crew for the Saint Mary's at Panama, crossed the 
isthmus with his men by the newly constructed Panama 
Railroad, and took command of his ship on December 
16th. For the next two years he cruised in the Pacific. 
The Saint Mary's visited several ports on the West 
Coast of South America, the Marquesas and Sandwich 
Islands, and surveyed several uninhabited islands in 
the South Pacific. Davis took formal possession of 
New Nantucket and Jarvis islands, *ihe principal object 
for the survey and occupation of these islands being 
the guano deposits, which turned out to be of no g^eat 
commercial value, although they were operated by the 
American Guano Company. 

In 1855 William Walker,^ a native of Tennessee, 
and an adventurer by profession, had landed in Nica- 
rag^ with a handful of followers, for the ostensible 
purpose of affording military assistance to the demo- 
cratic party in the intestine disturbances which were 
agitating that republic. His real purpose was the 

1 See American Cydopfxdia^ artide '< Walker.** 



THE SAINT MARY'S 101 

eztenslou of the slave power of the United States^ and 
the opening up of new and promising fields for Amer- 
ican slave labor and a new market for American slaves. 
He was a fearless and^ to a certain extent^ an able 
man^ and at first his success was phenomenal. After 
a series of adventures, in which he won several battles 
for the democratic cause, he became generalissimo, then 
president, and finally dictator, of Nicaragua. He was 
now apparently secure in the possession of power, but 
his first step toward the accomplishment of his real 
object was a mistake, and sealed the destruction of his 
own fortunes. He began by revoking the charter of 
the Yanderbilt Company, by which the route of transit 
through Lake Nicaragua was managed. His intention 
was, probably, to remove Northern influence from the 
country, but he miscalculated the result of antagonizing 
the money power of the North. When he followed 
up this act by revoking the decree prohibiting slavery 
in the dominions of the republic, which had been in 
force for thirty-two years, violent insurrections broke 
out, which were seconded by other Central American 
States, and stimulated by agents of the Yanderbilt Com- 
pany, who furnished arms and money. An alliance 
was formed against Walker, an allied army took the 
field, and Walker soon found himself in a very pre- 
carious situation and fast losing ground, with dwindling 
forces and a failing cause. In the spring of 1857 
Davis was sent to San Juan del Sur with the Saint 
3fary^8f to watch events. By this time Walker was 
reduced to desperate straits. He was besieged in Rivas, 
and his total destruction was only a question of time. 



102 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

Davis acted entirely on his own responsibilify, for he 
had received no orders or instmctions either from the 
commodore on the station or from tiie government at 
home. He also acted strictly in the interests of hn- 
manify, for he knew perfectly well that Walker de- 
served his fate, hnt he could not lie still in the Saint 
Mary* 8 at San Juan del Sur and see American citizens 
butchered in cold blood within reach of his arm, no 
matter how criminal or misguided they might be. He 
went to Rivas, taking with him only the surgeon of the 
ship as aid and secretary, and, by the exercise of ju- 
dicious pressure on the allied chiefs, he raised the siege 
of Rivas and received the surrender of Walker, with 
sixteen of his principal officers and about three hundred 
and fifty men, all Americans, under their pledge to 
leave the country, for which he became surety. He 
also took possession of the schooner Granada, at San 
Juan del Sur, which Walker had seized, and in which 
he had hoped to effect his escape, and turned her over 
to the authorities of Nicaragua. He received Walker 
and his army on board the Saint Mary^s, and trans- 
ported them to Panama, whence he sent ihem home 
to the United States. Davis was assailed in Congress 
for lus conduct of this affair, but the leaders of the 
slave party had sense enough • to know that his action 
was strictly justifiable from every point of view, and 
the question was allowed to drop. Walker had no 
scruple in violating his pledge, and within the year he 
landed again in Nicarag^, on the Atlantic coast, but 
was intercepted and arrested by Commodore Paulding, 
Davis's old shipmate of the Dolphin^ who commanded 



THE SAINT MARY'S 103 

on that station, and sent again to the United States. 
In 1860 he made a similar attempt to invade the re- 
public of Honduras, -which was a complete fiasco. He 
was overpowered by the native troops, taken a prisoner 
to Truzillo, and shot in the public square. The Walker 
episode was a trivial enough event as far as Davis was 
concerned, but it served to bring out the conspicuous 
traits of his official character, — promptness, and sound- 
ness of judgment, and fearlessness of responsibility. It 
marked him as a man who could be depended upon in 
an emergency. 

Of course, on his return to the United States, 
Walker sought to betray his deliverer by loudly pro- 
claiming that Davis had forced him to surrender at 
Rivas by throwing the weight of his authority with the 
allied commanders, when his (Walker's) chances of 
ultimate success were still good. The fact is, Davis 
saved Walker's life, and the lives of his officers and 
army ; for that there would have been a general mas- 
sacre at Rivas, following capitulation, no person conver- 
sant with the situation and the character of the people 
engaged ever doubted. It was admitted by several of 
Walker's own officers. Davis himself wrote from Mare 
Island, in March, 1858 : ^^ Among the things which I 
put down to mention to you, is my having received 
numerous calls from officers of the army in San Fran- 
cisco and here. The officers who called here came 
from the barracks at Benicia, seven miles distant. 
They all spoke of the affair at Rivas, and adopted the 
view that I saved Walker and his people from the 
terrible fate of Colonel Crabbe and his party in Mex- 



104 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

ico. It was apparently the object of their call to express 
their approval of my coarse, and sympathy with me in 
relation to Walker's attacks. Gfeneral Sanders sent 
me a note, of which the inclosed is a copy. [The note 
was extremely flattering.] He was the third in com- 
mand at Rivas. Gren^ral Frey, by far the most re- 
spectable American officer Walker ever had with him 
in character and talents, and a very pleasant gentleman, 
called with a party of friends to pay his respects and 
offer his thanks and congratulations. He was not in 
Rivas at the time of the capitulation. Tou will be 
gratified to hear this. The right view of my conduct 
seems to have been taken in San Francisco. I was 
amused and shocked to see Henningsen's ^ last letter. 
I have very often said among my friends that the false- 
hood and utter want of principle of these people would, 
sooner or later, lead them into some acts which would 
bring them to confusion. ... I have no feeling now on 
the subject, but I shall never cease to wonder at the 
delusion of the South in accepting Walker's assertion 
that I forced him to leave Rivas. I will dismiss the 
subject by saying (what I very possibly may have said 
before) that I have one feeling paramount to all others, 
and that is gratitude that I was relieved from the hor- 
ror of witnessing the slaughter of my countrymen, as 
it occurred in Havana and in Lower California, without 
the ability to succor them. This would have been a 
calamity as enduring as my life. I thank God that He 
permitted me to escape that." 

The Saint Mary^s went to Mare Island in March, 

^ He was one of Walker's pxinoipal offioen. 



THE SAINT MARY'S 105 

1858, to refit, and did not get away again until the 
middle of Angost. The delay was caused at first by 
lack of funds at the yard for the repairs, and then by 
the excitement attending the discovery of gold at Thom- 
son's and Frazer's rivers, followed by a general exodus 
of the mechanics of the yard and the desertion of a 
large number of seamen from the Saint Mary* 8 crew. 
During this long period, while the Saint Mary* 8 was 
under the sheers, Davis lived on board the Independ- 
ence, which was stationary receiving ship. Farragut 
was in command at the station, and the intercourse 
between the two was constant and intimate. A few 
extracts from Davis's letters from the Mare Island navy 
yard may show the manner of the man, and bring the 
short chapter of the cruise of the Saint Mary* 8 to a 
close : — 

March 26tlu Several of my officers are very much at- 
tached to me, and very extravagant in their way of speaking 
of me to others, the effect of which I sometimes see in their 
manners. This is maeh more agreeable than if it were the 
other way, stiU I am ready to exclaim, *^ Save me from my 
friends I " Such unmeaning praises go but little way with 
discriminating people. ^* Now you will come into court and 
swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the " German, but 
they say I speak it fluently. The purity and distinctness with 
which the French admiral speaks his native language is re- 
marked upon by his countrymen : now I hear that I speak 
French as well as Admiral Lugeol. Such compliments make 
one blush not only with shame, but with a sense of guiltiness. 

May 17th. I have had my young middy (my only young- 
ster) out in a little schooner a week, dredging and dragging 
the net, in Mare Island Straits, San Pablo Bay, and San 



106 CHARL£S HENRY DAVIS 

Francisco Bay, to get something for Agassis ; I am sorry to 
say, not with the snocess I anticipated. The amount of animal 
life in the water is nothing like that on onr shores and in our 
bays. The whole physical geography of these coasts is es- 
sentially different from ours. This I need not tell him. But 
I wish you would tell him that I have brought from Hono» 
lulu a Crustacea for him, presented by the Agricultural Society 
of the Hawaiian Islands at my solicitation. When he sees it 
he will say, '^ Oh, Davis ! Davis ! " pronouncing the a like the 
French i with the grave accent, and the i like our long e. . . • 

Have I spoken to you in a previous letter of the life 
of Admiral Sir Edward Parry ? You will be deeply inter- 
ested in it. It is a principle of my life to cultivate indiffer- 
ence towards and independence of individual opinions. I study 
to be regardless of what others think of my profession ^ and 
myself. If it were not so, I would recommend this book to 
the notice of some persons who think a life in the navy 
incompatible with and irreconcilable to all moral goodness. 
Sir Edward Parry had what the Catholics call a vocation. 
His call would have made him distinguished in any sphere 
of Uf e. How much he resembles Havelock ! 

June 18th. I have delivered Mr. Folsom's message to 
Captain Farragut : the latter had often spoken to me of the 
former, and always in terms of gratitude and affection. He 
was very glad to hear from Mr. Folsom,^ and begged me to 
say to him everything that was kind. He had never forgotten 
his obligations to liim, and never would forget them. He 

^ There existed in Davis's time, and exists still probably, in tbe East, 
and especially in Boston, a prejadioe against the military and naval pro- 
fessions amounting almost to a social stigma. Yet, cnrioosly enough, the 
people themselves are not wholly exempt from the national weakness 
which exults in questionable military titles. 

' See Mahan's Life of Admiral Farragut^ pp. 57 et $eq. Rev. Charles 
Folsom, formerly a chaplain in the navy and Farragut's preceptor in 
youth, was a near neighbor of Davis's in Cambridge. 



THE SAINT MARTS 107 

Baid farther that he had written Mr. Folsom repeatedly, and 
was sorry not to haye reoeiyed an answer. Tell Mr. Folsom 
he may well be proud of his pupiL He is one of the cleyerest 
men in the nayy, in both the EngUsh and American senses of 
the word. 

July 1-4. Our nayy yard was thrown into a state of excite- 
ment by the arriyal of the intelligence of Captain Farragut's 
remoyal, by the last mail. He has been here four years, and 
when he came the island was a desert of which no sod had 
been upturned. He is identified with all the buildings and 
improyements here. He is personally popular, his temper is 
amiable, his sentiments just, his feelings good, and his man- 
ners frank though brusque. His character is eminently up- 
right and manly. He has made some enemies and a good 
many friends during his four years of command. I like him. 
He has been kind and hospitable towards me, and in some 
respects he is a pattern of a man and of a nayy officer. I 
consider it a great piece of good fortune that I haye had him 
here during my refitment. He has been generous and agree- 
able. 

July 12th. My stay here has become yery tiresome, and, 
I am sorry to say, it is likely to be prolonged indefinitely. 
The desertions haye continued. Now that the repairs are 
drawing to a close, those who haye made up their minds to 
go, take French leaye, partly to escape the labor of fitting the 
ship out. The enlistment of our men in the nayal seryice is 
a contract by which both parties are solemnly bound. The 
seamen and marines know this, and are yery exacting in 
requiring of the goyemment all that belongs to themseWes 
under the contract. But such is the loose way of regarding 
these things here, that they lose sight of their own obliga- 
tions entirely, reasoning among themselyes somewhat in this 
way : *^ It is true that the yalue of my labor in New York or 
Philadelphia, at the time I entered the seryice, was only 
eighteen dollars a month, but here it is fifty or seyenty-fiye ; I 



108 CHARLES HENBT DAYI& 

can get four hnndred dollars for the voyage home : what a fool 
I am to remain here under snoh circumstances." The contrast 
is brought home to them more forcibly by the fact of their 
working side by side with the riggers of the yard who are 
getting fiye dollars a day, while they, employed in the same 
manner, doing the same thing, are reoeiying a little more than 
half a dollar only* This is very hard upon human nature. 
True, their conscience says to them, as honest Launcelot 
Gobbo's did to him, ^^ Do not run ; scorn running with thy 
heels." But at the same time the most courageous fiend bids 
them pack : '^ via I says the fiend ; away I says the fiend, for 
the heavens ; rouse up a brave mind, says the fiend, and run." 
And certainly they think their conscience is but a kind of 
hard conscience to offer to counsel them to stay where they 
are, as they think they are, so unjustly treated. In Califor- 
nia the state of society is unsettled; the one object, the 
governing motive of conduct, is to get money, and he that 
maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent This constant 
talk of money, of gold and high wages, of how much one 
earns here and another there, produces discontent. If my 
people had been always busy, and could have possibly 
remained on board the Saint Mary's^ they would not have 
left me in such numbers. But idleness and discontent ruined 
them. This discovery of gold in Fraser's river turned their 
heads, and they have gone off in crowds, leaving some six or 
seven thousand dollars due them on the purser's books, a fact 
that gives one an idea of their prudence, and of their likeli- 
hood to gather riches, or to enjoy them when gathered. 
Some of these desertions have surprised me. The men were 
so respectable and well-behaved and had so much money due 
them. It was only to be accounted for by this extreme 
infatuation about getting gold, and this reckless life without 
a •conscience or restraint, which characterizes California. 
One of them has pained me very much. This is Armstrong, 
my coxswain. He has been most faithful and good from the 



THE SAINT MART'S 109 

first moment lie oame on board to the day of his leaving, in 
everything but that act. He is one of the most unexceptionally 
good men I have ever known in any station of life. I feel 
sorry for him ; his loss, which is loss of character, is greater 
than mine. But snch an instance of defection is a painful 
experience in life ; its irresistible effect is to produce mis* 
trust. The result of all these desertions is that my ship is 
unmanned and I cannot go to sea without shipping, in part, 
a new crew. Yon will wonder how I am to get men at these 
fabulous prices. But these excessive wages only last during 
the Eraser's river excitement^ and that is subsiding. The 
last accounts from the North are discouraging to the miners 
and speculators. Fears are entertained that there will be a 
great deal of suffering there during the coming winter, and 
as yet no gold of any consequence has been exported. I have 
the strongest hopes that in three or four weeks I shall be 
able to ship hands enough to enable me to go to -sea. I have 
no question that if I were in Puget Sound I could fill my ship 
with men, who are now living in tents, and picking up a 
scanty subsistence with the greatest difficulty. The trouble 
is for them to get down here. They have not the means of 
removing, and are helplessly bound to meet their fate. This 
bad news from Eraser's river is good for me ; but I am receiv- 
ing my satisfaction at the expense of several thousand people 
who must be placed in a starving condition in order that I 
should be able to man the Saint Mary*3. This is not an 
exemplification of the principle, '* Live and let live.'' 

Now that this sudden gold-hunting furore is dying away, 
and the Eraser's river mines are talked of as a humbug, a 
rumor is in circulation that this excitement has been created 
for a specific purpose. It is said to have been concerted 
between the Hudson Bay Company and the steamship com- 
pany, for their mutual benefit. The charter of the former 
expires in the course of a year ; it has a large quantity of 
goods on hand (dothing, etc.), which would not sell for their 



110 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

freight in any of the Pacific markets, and could only be dis- 
posed of through a sudden influx of emigrants. The exist- 
ence of gold in Fraser's river has always been known to the 
company, which has been in the habit of purchasing it from 
the Indians ; and the company has been steadily opposed to 
immigration, and to any participation in the benefits of its 
monopoly. Finding, however, that its charter will not be 
renewed, and wishing to close the concern as the mercantile 
phrase is, it resorted to this means of creating a market at 
home. 

The steamship company's share of the profits of this specu* 
lation is to arise from the increase in the number of their 
passengers. It is curious to see how coolly such a scheme of 
rascality is talked of, involying, as it must, a great amount of 
human suffering in the loss of health, of phce, of money ; in 
cold, hunger, and disappointment ; in the loss of home and 
character under temptation ; and last but not least, in the 
wretchedness of those who are left behind. I have no opinion 
myself of the correctness of this rumor. I repeat it as I hear 
it. It seems to me, however, incredible. I should think the 
individuals who are agents of the two companies would be 
afraid to do it — to engage in a transaction so wicked, so 
grossly bad* Yet, as my friend Job says ; *^The wicked live, 
become old, yea, are mighty in power.'' And I have heard 
of something since my arrival here, coming from quite an 
authentic source, equally villainous. You will recall what I 
told you when I was in San Juan del Sur concerning the 
seizure of the lake steamers by the hero, statesman, and sage. 
General Walker, and their subsequent pretended sale to per- 
sons who, you must recollect in order to fully appreciate the 
moral beauty of the affair, were at that time the agents in 
San Francisco of the owner of these steamers. A friend here 
informs me that the whole proceedings, including the drawing 
up of the legal papers, were prepared and planned in San 
Francisco long beforehand, and that the correspondence 



THE SAINT MARY'S 111 

immediately preceding the seizure was a mere pretext for put- 
ting the project in execution. In this instance we have the 
example cited by my friend Zophar the Naamathite : *' That 
which he labored for shall he restore, and shall not swallow 
it down : according to his substance shall the restitution be, 
and he shall not rejoice therein." 

July 80th. If you wish to form a correct estimate of men 
you must be as rigid in your induction from the facts of 
observation here, as in any branch of knowledge relating to 
inanimate things. Your tenderness and kindness of heart 
interfere with your observations, in fact, become mixed up 
with them, and injure their value. Now this is not unchari- 
table. I may not be a whit less charitable to a man, in my 
conduct, because I believe that his faults of temper and judg- 
ment render him a mischief-breeder. *' Charity is not a fool," 
as Dr. Walker once said to me. The aposties were enjoined 
to be not only harmless but wise. 

August 9th. The time is fast drawing on when I am to 
leave this ship (the Independence) and go back to my dear 
Saint Markfe. How little did I dream when I left home that 
I should live nearly half a year on board the Independence, 
renewing, in a measure, the life of twenty years ago, occupy- 
ing the same room good old Tom Breese lived in, and study* 
ing the past by the light of the present. It is a very difiEerent 
thing from living twenty years in the same place. It is the 
&ct of my return, after an absence of twenty years, to so 
unusual a home, whence arises the peculiar interest. I can- 
not expect it to strike you as forcibly as it does me. But the 
truth is, all of my life that is life, or at least most of it, is 
comprised in that twenty years. How much would I like to 
live over some parts of the time. The cares and trials, what- 
ever they were, are not prominent ; but there are some sea- 
sons of happiness, crowded with enjoyment and filled full of 
thought and action, that seem to me now in the retrospect 
very rich. • • • My life in this ship has been too quiet for 



115 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

one of my actiye liabits of mind and body. And though I 
have enjoyed excellent health, I feel a little the effects of the 
stagnation. One of the worst consequences of inaction is an 
unwillingness to moye ; a dull, heavy, lazy state of acqui- 
escence in things as they are. I have been so situated that I 
could neither hasten or retard the very work in which I was 
most interested. I shall be glad to get back my control ; but 
I will wind up this grumbling. 

San Francisco, August 15th. I arrived and anchored on 
the morning of the 18th, and have been very busy since then 
in making arrangements for shipping a crew. I am satisfied 
that there will be less difficulty in procuring men than in 
rejecting them ; there are a great many persons here of all 
sorts who are without the means of living — among them 
quite a number of seamen. I went round to the shipping 
offices yesterday, and a crowd gathered round me wherever I 
stopped ; so eager were some of them to get a home, and a 
dinner without begging for it, that they offered to enter on 
the spot, and fifteen men signed the articles yesterday. To- 
morrow I begin in earnest, open an office at the ** Sailors' 
Home," and receive at the same time on board. It would 
not surprise me if the complement of the ship were filled in 
one or two days. This is good, for you have no idea how 
melancholy it has made me feel, thinking of the Saint 
JUary^s unmanned and inefficient. As a captain, it is to me 
a mortification and a pain to have the outward semblance of 
a man-of-war without the life within that gives it power and 
reality. When the crew is complete and the new men 
thoroughly trained in their exercises, I shall once more walk 
my quarter-deck with the satisfaction of being able to do all 
that can be reasonably expected of us. 

The Saint Mary* 8 sailed on August 26th, and for 
the short remainder of the cruise was kept on the coast 



THE SAINT MARY'S 113 

of Central America. Davis was relieved of the com- 
mand in February^ 1859^ at Panama, and returned to 
Cambridge and resumed his post at the head of the 
^^ Nautical Almanac/' During the cruise of the Saint 
Mary* 8 Davis prepared a treatise on naval architecture, 
which, however, he never published ; and he translated 
Kerhallet's ^^ General Examination of the Pacific 
Ocean," adding notes of his own. This book is still 
the standard authority for the navigation of the Pacific. 
During his absence from home his translation of Gauss's 
^^ Theoria Motus Corporum Coelestium " had appeared 
and been well received, and he had the satisfaction of 
giving to the mathematical world the first English ver- 
sion of the method of least squares. 



CHAPTER Vn 

THE NAVT DEPARTMENT IN 1861 

When Davis returned from his cruise in the Pacific, 
he settled down again to the old life in Cambridge. 
His place at the head of the Almanac had been tem- 
porarily filled during his absence by Professor Joseph 
Winlock, and he now resumed it, and, as far as possi- 
ble, the old mode of life and its interests. Through 
the increasing political excitement of the times, he 
worked steadily at the Almanac, and at the labors 
entailed by his membership of several harbor commis- 
sions, particularly that of Boston. There were also, as 
before, occasional journeys to Washington on *^ Nauti- 
cal Almanac" business, and for consultation with 
Bache and the other members of harbor commissions. 
In this way the two years from the spring of 1859 to 
the spring of 1861 were passed. He was in Washings 
ton in March of the latter year, on duties connected 
with Boston harbor and the projected Cape Cod Canal, 
and he draws the following picture of the early days 
of the first BepubUcan administration : — 

March 9th. Yesterday morning, Friday, I set o£E early for 
the department, in and about which I passed the day. I 
found that the officers of the navy were to be formally re- 
ceived by the Secretary and President, and being in uniform 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 116 

(though the others were in full dress), I fell in and had the 
pleasure of seemg the President and Mrs. Lincoln* In the 
former I was agreeably disappointed. His likenesses, such 
as are seen in prints, etc., give no idea of his appearance, 
— I might almost say, none whateyer. His countenance is 
far from ugly, and its expression is decidedly attractive. 
The play of features and the easy smile are more engaging 
than the pictures make him. He is awkward in his figure 
and manners, but his awkwardness is not gawherie. It is 
by no means vulgar. The impression he makes is altogether 
favorable. . • . The absorbing topic of conversation here is 
the state of the country. • • • But the greatest gloom and 
anxiety prevail among those whom I have seen. I cannot 
conceive how it should be otherwise, when our fate is taken 
out of our own hands and is dependent on the voices and 
opinions of one or two persons. It is thought and feared 
that the crisis will come upon the demand of the South Car- 
olina commissioners for Fort Sumter. If the demand should 
be peremptorily refused, the attack will be made from the 
batteries on Morris Island and the mainland, and from the 
forts Moultrie and Pinckney. This seems to be the point of 
final rupture. 

Up to the breaking out of the war, the ordinary 
business of the Navy Department had been conducted 
by the Secretary and his clerks and by the chiefs of the 
several bureaus, without the direct assistance of the 
officers of the navy. The business was simple in its 
nature, and was not complicated by any elaborate forms 
of correspondence or accounts. Details of naval offi- 
cers to duty were manaered in the Secretary's office, 
geo«dl, Jder th, su^o rf 4. chJderk ^ 
by the personal direction of the Secretary himself. 
The war brought such an increase of labor in the 



116 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

administratiye branch of the service that the ordi- 
nary methods were quite inadequate to its proper ex- 
ecution. There was not only the rapid increase of 
the fleet, and the appointment of a large number of 
volunteer officers, but the defection of the Southern 
officers, and the uncertainty as to the loyalty and trust- 
worthiness of some who remained in the service, made 
it absolutely imperative to have not only an increase 
in the administrative force, but an intelligent and well- 
informed dass of assistants who should be cognizant 
of the needs of the service in a sudden emergency, 
and qualified by personal acquaintance with officers to 
deal with a condition of affairs in which doubt and 
uncertainty prevailed. Under these circumstances the 
Secretary turned naturally and inevitably to naval offi- 
cers, and to naval officers of known character and 
standing. Davis was summoned to Washington ^^ for 
duty connected with the discipline and efficiency of the 
naval service," and he remained on duty at the depart- 
ment through the whole of the spring and summer of 
1861. 

In order to deal intelligently with the questions re^ 
lating to the personnel of the service, a new bureau 
was created, the Bureau of Detail, established at first 
only by departmental order, and not sanctioned by law 
until two years later. Commodore Hiram Paulding 
was the head of this bureau, and Davis was assigned to 
it, his associate being Commander Maxwell Woodhull. 
The bureau was charged with the general business of 
the detail and assignment of officers, the appointment 
and instruction of volunteer officers, and the purchase 



THE NAVY DEPAETMENT IN 1861 117 

of ships, with other matters related more or less directly 
to these principal heads. The work of this bureau 
was extremely confining, and Davis was really the ex- 
ecutive head of it ; for Commodore Paulding was now 
well advanced in age, and exercised the functions of a 
director rather than those of an active chief. Besides 
the work of this bureau, Davis had also the secretary- 
ship of a confidential board, consisting of the chiefs 
of the several bureaus, charged with the duty of ^^ con- 
sidering and acting upon such subjects connected with 
the naval service as may be submitted to ftheml by the 
department for tlieir opinion at tius impoLt janotai» 
of our national affairs ; '' and the board was also di- 
rected to ^^ make such suggestions regarding the naval 
service generally as may occur to the board." This 
was virtually a board of admiralty, although its pro- 
ceedings did not have the stamp of authority, and its 
very existence was strictly confidential and was sup- 
posed to be kept secret. Davis seldom alludes to this 
board in his letters. In addition to his duties in the 
department, he retained the directorship of the ^^ Nau- 
tical Almanac," whose affairs he controlled by corre- 
spondence ; and he also remained a member of several 
harbor commissions. Besides these multifarious duties, 
he became secretary and member of a commission of con- 
ference on proposed naval and military operations on 
the Southern coasts and the conduct of the blockade. 
Something of the inner history of this commission will 
appear in the letters which follow. Almost immediately 
on the breaking out of hostilities, it was proposed to 
discontinue the coast survey, and, as at least one half 



118 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

of Its field of operations was rendered inaccessible by 
the war, it would at first sight appear that the propo- 
sition to discontinue, or rather to suspend^ the opera- 
tions of the surrey, was not altogether an unreasonable 
one. But the cleverness of the superintendent turned 
the war to actual account, and made it not only not a 
hindrance, but a positive benefit to the prosperity of the 
survey. Bache was a man fully capable of a move of 
this kind, and, where a less active and enterprising 
chief would have passively acquiesced in what seemed 
to be the inevitable, the situation simply stimulated 
Bache to the exertion of his great natural talents for 
management and persuasion. Davis had been so inti- 
mately associated with Bache, and his position at the 
department was so important, that Bache turned natu- 
rally to him for assistance. The result of the combi- 
nation was that the coast survey gave almost inesti- 
mable service to the government during the war, both 
on land and at sea, and came out at the end of the war 
stronger and more secure in its position than it hiid 
ever been before. The first move of Bache's appears 
in the establishment of the conference, of which he 
and Davis were members, his own functions being to 
furnish the topographical and hydrographical informa- 
tion necessary to the formation of plans of operation. 
Du Pont was the senior member of the conference, and 
Major J. G. Barnard, of the engineers, was the fourth 
member. Davis was junior member and secretary. 

It would reach quite beyond the scope of this memoir 
to discuss at length the proceedipgs of this conference 
and its plans and recommendations. Admiral Porter 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 119 

said of it that the results of its labors, when placed in 
the hands of the Secretary of the Navy, were of g^eat 
service in enabling the department to take prompt and 
proper measures for the capture of the ports along the 
Southern coast. Its plans were very comprehensive, 
embracing the whole of the Atlantic and Ghilf coasts, 
including the Mississippi Biver, and they contemplated 
not only such operations as were necessary to make the 
blockade effective, but likewise operations of a purely 
military character. Hatteras Inlet was the first fruit 
of its labors, the object being to capture and hold the 
inlets into the sounds of North Carolina, and cut off 
inland water communication with Norfolk and Rich- 
mond. Port Royal followed; and speaking of the 
results of that victory. Admiral Porter said it afforded 
^^an opportimity of throwing into the heart of the 
South a great army, had we of the North been wise 
enough to force the fighting in a quarter where it 
would have eventually brought matters to a speedy con- 
clusion." 

Although not explicitly so stated in its memoirs, 
something of this kind was undoubtedly contemplated 
by the commission. But unfortunately the great ar^ 
mies of the North were necessarily otherwise engaged. 
To capture a port and hold it as a base for the block- 
ade, maintaining a sufficient garrison to act as a menace 
to the surrounding country, was as far as the North 
could go at this stage of the war. The invasion of the 
Carolinas, with the Savannah River as a base, could 
only be effected after four years of fighting, and after 
the dismemberment and isolation of the Confederacy 



120 CHARLES HENEYDAYIS 

by ihe complete oonqnert of the Miiwii«ippiy and by the 
zigor of the blockade and the eapbue of the principal 
ports of entry for blockade runners. In 1861 the 
popular cry yn^ ^' On to Richmond ! " Bnt^ even if 
popular clamor could have been disr^arded, no force 
sufficient for an invasion of the South could have been 
withdrawn from the lines of the Potomac and the West 
The North was not always in a position to force the 
fightings but on the contrary its most strenuous efforts 
in 1861 were directed toward covering the capitaL The 
recommendations of the commission, as far as they 
related to naval operations along the coast, were mostly 
carried out, though not always in the order of sequence 
laid down ; its reports furnished valuable information 
to the commanders of blockading squadrons ; and the 
principle of ite recommendations, namely, a close block- 
ade, with the successive capture of the enemy's ports, 
formed the policy of the department. 

At no time during his service in the Navy Department 
did Davis regard his position there as anything more 
than temporary. He had no taste for the routine work 
which he was set to do, and the labors of the Bureau of 
Detail were particularly irksome to him ; but although he 
disliked them, he performed them none the less heartily 
and zealously, and he was probably one of the very 
best men that could have been selected for the work of 
detail and assignment at this time. He was almost uni- 
versally admired and respected in the service, had very 
few personal enemies, and his long connection with 
duties lying outside the narrow scope of strictly profes- 
sional work raised him above the suspicion of sordid or 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 121 

personal motives in the performance of a duty wliich is 
always attended with difficulties of this nature. More- 
over, he was an excellent judge of character, and the 
service had confidence in his judgment. Still, he 
pined for active service, hut he well knew that his turn 
would come. 

The extracts from his letters which f oUow have heen 
selected as bearing directly on the work of the depart- 
ment and the conference ; and they throw a side light 
on the condition of affairs in Washington, while they 
bring out in stronger colors the character of the writer. 
The letters are all addressed to Mrs. Davis. 

May 19th. The weekl have passed in the Bureau of Detail 
has more than satisfied me. I don't like the duty, and am 
not particularly suited for it ; not half so well, for example, 
as Captain Emmons, whom I find there, and whom I am 
expected to relieve. He seems to get along well with Com- 
modore Paulding, and it will be a great mistake to remove 
him. The business of his life has been, and is, to preserve 
and record the past and current history of the navy, and his 
register is the only one by which it can be asoertamed, at this 
moment, where every officer of the navy is, and who has 
resigned. 

May 22d. When I left Bache's on Monday, it was agreed 
that I should dine there, if possible, and drink tea there, if 
not impossible, every Tuesday. I was there last night and 
had a pleasant evening. I found that Bache has a plan of 
his own to carry out, which involves my remaining here, and 
some other changes of another kind. He wishes to establish 
a military commission, or advisory council, to determine mili- 
tary proceedings and operations along the coast The coast 
survey is to furnish the requisite information of the hydro- 
graphical and topographical nature. I am to be junior mem* 



122 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

ber and secretary of this board. Du Pont is to take Commo- 
dore Paulding's place at the head of this bureau. General 
Totten is to be the military member of the commission. I 
haye only arrived at a full understanding of this plan this 
morning. Fox, the chief derk of the Navy Department, has 
already been brought into the scheme of the conunission — 
how much further he had gone, or been advised, in respect to 
Bache's plans, I do not exactly know. In the meantime I 
must wait. Philosophy and patience must be my resort. 
And when I consider the present state of public affairs, and 
reflect upon the hopes I have cherished, the plans projected, 
the apprehensions felt, the anxieties suffered, all of which 
have been rudely swept away and annihilated by the recent 
political convulsions of the country, — canceled and reduced 
to the merest insignificance, — I am admonished to be patient ; 
to be ready but not too calculating or anxious ; to wait and 
trust. 

May 80th. I could not now leave this place. Paulding 
begins to depend on me. There was disorder and confusion 
when I came into the office, which are now somewhat removed. 
A confidential advisory board in the department has been 
appointed, of which I am secretary (this between ourselves), 
and finally, there is the commission of Bache. The position 
is very disagreeable to me, but I am here and must stay. 

June 1st. I am perfectly enthralled here, and have stuck 
my fingers into so many pies ; have heated so many irons, 
that I have made myself a prisoner. The commodore leaves 
to me the execution of the current duties of the office : (1) I 
retain the direction of the ^^ Nautical Almanac " ; (2) I am 
secretary (as I told you before) of a confidential advisory 
board ; (8) I shall be secretary of Bache's commission ; (4) 
and Fox, the chief derk, has begun to ask me to help him 
occasionally in the business of the department, correspond- 
ence for example ; (5) I like to be useful ; but this threat- 
ens to confine me too much. 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 128 

Jane 4ih. I set out to go to the Snuthsonian last night, 
bnt it threatened rain and looked so blaok with donds and 
bright vrith lightning that I went home. To-day I shall go 
and dine vrith Baohe, to see the last of Ben ^ who goes to-mor- 
row. Yon most not think from what I have written that 
because I am dissatisfied I am nnhappy. I am afraid I have 
given yon the idea that I regret having offered my services to 
Commodore Paulding. On the contrary, I am much better 
contented to be here, in the centre of action and of motion, 
than I could possibly be in Cambridge, ignorant of, and tak- 
ing no part in, the great business of the time. Besides, I 
fully realize, or if not folly at least in a great measure, my 
expectation that here at Washington, in the Navy Depart- 
ment, I know what is going on, and have it somewhat in my 
power to choose, when I leave here, where I go. There is a 
great deal in this. 

June 7th. Conmiodore Paulding left here this morning 
for home, and is to be absent ten days probably ; in the mean- 
time I am to get along as well as I can. The business of 
this bureau, you are aware, is to assign their respective duties 
and places to officers of all g^rades, except the medical corps. 
Now, as there are many reasons for preferring one duty, sta- 
tion, or ship to another, and as it is impossible to know much 
of the individual preferences, or to make anything approach- 
ing to an accurate estimate of the nice distinctions of service 
and the claims founded on it, we are frequently giving offense, 
or doing favors or performing some act of signal injustice or 
justice, without being at all aware of it. But Commodore 
Paulding is peculiarly fitted for this place. He is frank, 
cordial, and very gentlemanly in his manners, generous in his 
nature, very just, and particularly distinguished by a scrupu- 
lous regard for the rights and feelings of others. He is, of 
course, very popular, and his popularity is of the steady sort 
that does not wax or wane vrith droumstances. But I, who 

^ Frofessor Peirce. 



124 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

have little claim to the qoalifioations that so admirably suit 
him for the place, should be veiy sorry to stay here without 
him ; and my mind is very much exercised in thinking what 
I shall do when he goes. 

June 14th. Baohe is wonderful in his way. The general 
expectation has been that the coast survey, being deprived 
of a large part of its field of usefulness, would decline in 
power and be reduced in occupation. Some of those kind«> 
hearted people, whose happiness is impaired by too much suc- 
cess and prosperity on the part of their neighbors, have 
remarked to Mr. Bache in a tone of condolence, but with a 
smile of satisfaction, that they supposed the coast survey 
would be stopped now. But, in fact, it has never been so 
distinguished and important as now. Bache's ingenuity has 
been exercised in discovering methods of making the coast 
survey cooperative in the great movement of the day. The 
new commission I have already spoken of; in addition to 
this, he has made special surveys, made and distributed maps 
of the seat of war, and, above all, he has managed so as to 
have caUs made on his office for reconnoissances ; and he is 
now, by means of his assistants, actually performing the duty 
of a topographical corps to this division of the army, for 
which service he has received the thanks and compliments of 
the President, the Secretary of War, and the general-in-chief . 
And his assistants will accompany the army in its advance, 
and form the active members of the topographical staff. He 
certainly possesses a very remarkable talent for this kind of 
government. 

June 25th. Since I began this letter Du Pont has come 
in, and finally the board of conference has been arranged, 
— Du Pont, Bache, Major Barnard of the Engineers, and 
myself as secretary. 

June 26th. Yesterday being Tuesday, I dined with Bache. 
Du Pont was there, and the dinner was remarkably pleasant, 
and the chat very chatty and entertaining. I could not refrain 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 126 

from teUing Captain Du Pont sometliing of the management 
by which the board of conference was created : he was very 
mnch amnsed, and understood the whole thing at once. He 
is quite pleased at being ordered on this service, which is 
secret, important, and complex. He likes, too, being in 
Washington during the coming session of Congress. Da 
Pont, you know, is a man of society and a greater favorite 
than ever. 

June 80th. The meeting of the conference yesterday was 
an interesting one, and it is probable that we shall be able to 
make ourselves useful, even very useful. I cannot put on 
paper the subjects on which we deliberate, for fear of the 
accidental miscarriage of my letters, or of their being exam- 
ined. It is 1^ curious and rather uncomfortable state of things 
here, that we know (or most strongly suspect) that we have 
among us spies who communicate freely vrith the other party. 
Do you remember that the secretary of that bom son of hell 
and darkness, Philip IL, was the spy of Motley's hero, Wil- 
liam? A spy with us, however, has no reason to fear so cruel 
a fate as that of Philip's secretary, if found out. . . . The 
enemy is welcome to know the truth of us. Our purpose is 
earnest, and our means of fulfilling that purpose daily in- 
crease. Truth is our defense, as falsehood is the trust of the 
other party. ... I am, just at this moment, very much occu- 
pied, and, I believe, rather important. All the irons are in 
the fire, and I have to be ready to strike each one as it be- 
comes hot. 

The return of the commodore to the bureau is very agree- 
able and welcome. We get along very well together, and 
now that Du Pont is here it seems a sort of family concern. 
The commodore said yesterday to Du Pont, ** Is n't it pleasant 
to have Charles Davis here ! " You remember how restless 
I was at home after the war broke out. Now I am satisfied 
in so far as that I am well employed. 

July 16th. Your long letter, received this morning, was 



126 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

most welcome to me. I see by the slip you inclose that the 
business of our conference (as we call it) is known, though 
we endeavored to keep it secret. It keeps me very busy. I 
am told to-day that our plans of operation give great satisfac- 
tion. I hope this- is true, for that reward will sweeten the 
labor. This association has gone far to reviye my pleasant 
old companionship with Du Pont. . • . Farragut, the com- 
mandant of the navy yard at Mare Island, was here this morn- 
ing. I was glad to see him. 

July 18th. A rather alarming attack has been made on 
the coast surrey, and I am called to the rescue. This is 
heaping Pelion upon Ossa. I was at the Capitol yesterday 
on this business, and have to go again to-day. I dine vrith 
Bache. 

July 19th. As you know from the public prints what the 
object of our commission is, or rather what its objects are, 
I may indulge myself in the gratification of telling you that 
our reports, or memoirs (drawn up by myself), have created 
great interest and attention (Jurore Du Pont calls it), and 
our plans have been adopted. It is satis&ctory to find that 
our labor has been appreciated by the Cabinet. Du Pont runs 
off again to-day, to go home Saturday and Sunday. I envy 
him his happiness. Bache, who was in the office to-day on 
business of the commission, says that I must be ready to go to 
Boston vrith him next month ; and I mean to arrange it if 
possible. This is what I have kept my eyes upon all the 
time. The Boston harbor commission is my grand refuge. 
The Boston flats will provide a tiatural way for my turning 
a sharp comer away from the bureau. I dined yesterday 
with Bache (instead of Tuesday), in company with Du Pont, 
Fox, and Professor Frazer, of Philadelphia ; a pleasant din- 
ner. In the evening, work. 

July 21st. I must tell you again, to prepare you for it, 
that a single week's leave of absence from the office is the 
most that I can promise myself. In these stirring times it 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 127 

does not do to be absent from one's post of duty. This is a 
settled principle. I should, if the opportunity were favora- 
ble, ask for some duty, or, as I have suggested before, fasten 
on the Boston harbor commission as an excuse for leaving 
my station. And I must say to you that, dearly as I would 
love to be at home with you and the children, I would not ask 
such an indulgence, nor accept it if offered. It is a most 
grateful thing to me to have the opportunity of being as 
useful as I am at this moment, and I would not lose it for 
the world. There are several respects in which my previous 
occupations have qualified me to meet the wants of the times. 
One is my habit of writing, another is my French. Now, if 
I stay away too long some one must take my place. I shall 
teach people to do without me. ** To be done " (working), 
as my friend William says, — I quote from memory, — " is to 
hang quite out of mind, like a rusty suit of armor, in mon- 
umental mockery." 

July 27th. Sunday does not bring rest, and some of the 
time I meant to devote to you I have been obliged to bestow 
on business. You know, without my telling you, that I am 
member and secretary of a mixed commission on the blockade. 
We have sent in three papers, and I have a fourth done and 
nearly copied. As I have the drawing up of these papers, 
and the arrangement and presentation of the information and 
ideas collected and suggested in the conference, I thought it 
would please you to be told that Mr. Seward especially, and 
the Cabinet generally, were pleased with them. The govern- 
ment (how wonderfully, wonderfully tardy and dilatory it is 
in its motions I) has finally determined to act upon our plans, 
and this morning two of the papers were read to General 
Scott, in a council of officers of which Du Pont was one, and 
he has just been in to tell me that the general pronounced 
them to possess high ability, and said he indorsed every word 
of them. This I tell you, because you will be more recon- 
ciled to my absence from home, knowing that I am doing 



128 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

service to the country at this critical period of her histoiy. 
• • . You will be glad to hear that, if the promotions are 
made in compliance with the nominations before Congress 
(as they probably will be), I shall be only the second on the 
list of commanders. And if the retiring bill passes, two 
TBcancies will soon be made, and made without injuring, 
on the contrary by benefiting, the retiring officers. This 
retiring bill, if it passes, I shall have a special right to 
profit by, for Mr. Grimes, the senator who introduced it, 
came to me for the details and provisions of the bill. 

August 7th. About my intentions next autumn and win- 
ter, on this subject there is much to be said, i In times like 
these, an officer can have but one desire and one principle 
of conduct, the desire to go where he can be most useful, and, 
whatever his station, the principle of doing his duty to the 
utmost of his ability. JfU reputans adum^ si quid supereS" 
set agendum. It would be affectation in me to deny that I 
have managed to make myself useful in this office. During 
the few days of Fox's absence, the Secretary has referred to 
me several matters of importance ; and Fox, now assistant 
secretary, often puts in my hands certain portions of his 
voluminous correspondence that relate to my specialties. 
Then on the boards, too, and this bureau, which is gradually 
expanding under my control, and owes to my efforts a large 
part of its present (unfinished) status. This office is not yet 
a permanent one, is not established by law, and may not, 
therefore, be continued. 

August 12th. Mr. Fox and Commodore Paulding came 
home yesterday morning, . . . and now you must understand 
the state of the case. The government has purchased a large 
number of vessels in New York which are in the hands of the 
workmen undergoing such changes as are necessary to fit 
them for an armament, and the purchase and outfit of these 
vessels furnish occasions for going to New York on duty. 
The commodore has hitherto profited by these occasions, but 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 120 

I find that I can go now, under ciicnmstances that will enable 
me to run home for a day. You will ask why I do not make 
this my harbor or Almanac visit, ilrst, because Bache 
can't go now, and second, I don't call this my visit home, 
but only a mn for rehucation : my going home for a visit is 
another thing. 

Angost 28th. Yesterday I found it out of the range of 
possibility to write a line, unless I gave up dining with 
Bache, as I had promised. Things went as wrong as a bad 
memory, a fit of indigestion, and a complicated series of mis- 
apprehensions acting on ill temper could make them. It was 
in vain I tried to disentangle matters ; finally I gave up the 
struggle and rushed off to Bache, rest, and Liebfranmiloh (or 
Budesheimer). But there, alas 1 I was disappointed again* 
And when Bache learned from me that the army had made 
no progress whatever in the matter you wot of, he danced 
round, jumped up and down in his chair, and tore his hair, 
and I could really have sat down in my diair and cried, when 
I saw that our plan (of the conference) for seizing and occu- 
pying the coast of Georgia was about to be anticipated by the 
authorities of the State. My philosophy and my hopes are 
subjected to the severest triaL 

August 29th. I grieve to say that my feelings have under- 
gone a change since I left home. I have seen by the papers 
that our plans for seizing and occupying the Southern waters 
have been anticipated, and the news is received vrith the most 
alarming indifference. I begin now to share in the general 
doubt and despondency, so far as our operations are con- 
cerned. This Teding will soon pass into indifference, I pre- 
sume. I have most deliberately determined to abstain, as 
long as possible, from worrying about what I cannot help. I 
find I exercise no personal influence, and I long since dis- 
covered that it is time and effort wasted to tiy to make 
people think and act contrary to their natures, or to the turn 
and habit of their minds. I have an indefinite feeling or 



130 CHASLES HENRY DAVIS 

apprehension that the disooyerj of our plans for the oeonpa- 
tion of the Southern coast, made so long ago, and presented 
and approved, will hereafter make trouble, and I really begin 
to fear that my hopes of the commission's utility will fall to 
the ground. But I go on and work out the problems, with 
no less industry, but with a subdued seal. When the whole 
subject is finished, I shall feel that we endeavored to do welL 
We are now in the Gulf, and there is a large amount remain- 
ing to be done. I am sorry to write in so gloomy a strain 
but this is the way I feel to^y. Xo-oiorrow I may feel 
better. 

September 2d. The excitement was so great yesterday 
morning, in consequence of the news fromHatteras Inlet, 
that I found it impossible to write you any more than a single 
line. But I did not share in the general exultation, though 
I was highly gratified at the result as &r as it went What 
was done fell so far short of our original project, and the im- 
policy of stopping in the midst of such a career of success, 
both of these added together, made me feel more disappointed 
than gratified. What Mr. Pleydell said after kissing lixxesy 
Betram should have been the thought of the commanding 
officer : *^ Onne e^arrite pas dans un si beau cAemtn." But 
we are preparing to set it right by directing the completion 
of the work, about which, I have no doubt, there will be some 
difficulty. 

September 4th. I am to have the pleasure of dining to-day 
with General McClellan, and we are to take this occasion of 
talking over our projects. I am quite occupied vrith the pro- 
spect of meeting the man who seems to be the man of the age 
and the times in this country. I shall give you my impres- 
sions of him to-morrow [which, unfortunately, he did not do, 
as press of business prevented his writing again until] 

September 6th. I indose a note from Du Pont written 
last Saturday. It may amuse you. I feel better than I did 
a little while ago when I felt truly depressed by the apparent 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 131 

inaction of the chiefs — the leaders. Hatteras is good ; but 
there most be better coming, 

Satnzday, 31 Ang., '61. 

Mt dbab Davis, — Your P. S. in pencil to a letter you 
forwarded stmck me as the first inkling of gloom from your 
brave heart and well-stmng nerves ; but I suppose you were 
transmitting the tone of your surroundings more than your 
own feelings. I never had but one misgiving, that I men- 
tioned to you, whether our government ma/ohivj&ry was equal 
to the emergency. ** Just too late '' would seem to be our 
motto just now. Bourbon-like, we do not seem to do a capi- 
tal thing soon enough. . . . But we must put our shoulders 
to the wheel and exert to the utmost every power God has 
given us. If we are not successful in this struggle it must 
not be your fault or mine. AfiEec'ly, F. D. P. 

September 8th. I have begun to open my batteries on the 
subject of going home to attend to Boston harbor and ^^ Nauti- 
cal Almanac " business, and I am in hopes that when the pre- 
sent press and crowd of work are somewhat relaxed, I shall 
be permitted to run away and make a longer visit home than 
the last. About such things both Mr. Welles and Mr. Fox 
are the most amiable people in the world. Though they 
do make one boil over with grief and impatience at their 
singular want of appreciation of the virtue of promptness, 
and of thA valtie of circumstances — the valtte of circumr 
stances. Now the terror existing in the State of North 
Carolina, a circumstance so much in our favor; and the 
excited expectation of the North, a circumstance so much in 
our favor ; and the confidence with which our troops and sea- 
man have been inspired, a circumstance so much in our &vor ; 
all these will be allowed to subside and die out, without a just 
estimation of, or a turning to account, their inestimable value* 
If they would only lay aside the daily detail of busiaessi and 



182 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

place themselves for a moment on the perch of histoiy I If 
they could only be brooght to realize the wish of Betty the 
maid, and stand on the bank and see themselvee ride byl 
We talk like a book in a red ooTer, but I have often to think 
of that maxim of conduct I learned £rom sister Louisa, ^ One 
must not expect to change natural qualities." I am ready to 
ay over it. But I must hold my tongue, and command and 
restrain my thoughts even. Heaps of maxims and senten- 
tious sayings of my wise and dear friend Shakespeare crowd 
into my mind. Examples of histoiy rise before me, press 
upon my thoughts, till I fear that zeal, growing out of too 
much thinking on the subject, may take the place of know- 
ledge. So, after all, it is perhaps well that the direction is 
not in my hands. If it had been I should certainly haye had 
another little expedition on foot, which we (the conference) 
have been urging upon Mr. Fox with more than eagerness — 
with pertinacity. 

September 10th. Yesterday was one of those unsatisf actoiy 
days when one is busy all the time and does nothing, makes 
no progress. Hours were wasted in the merest idle talk at a 
meeting I was obliged to attend. I have schooled myself to 
some patience on such occasions, though I am astounded (no 
word less strong will express it) at the frivolous consumption 
of business time — precious and needed. There is so ready 
a disposition to find fault vrith people we differ from, and we 
are so apt, under the influence of pedantic notions, to do 
injustice to minds and habits of thought that differ from our 
own, that I endeaver to restrain my impatience and disposi- 
tion to criticise. You know from your own observation how 
one's tongue will run on, when the argument is our neighbors* 
shortcomings measured by our own standard. I am very 
much disposed just now to think that Fox is not going to rise 
to the height of the argument. He is very, very clever, very 
prompt in the business of the department, and very even- 
minded. But he has disappointed my first expectations in 



THE NAVY DEPABTMENT IN 1861 188 



ieveral respeots. He has a isaasj for planning, rather than 
executing, so that while he is always ready to consider any 
scheme, he is equally ready to postpone any step towards the 
execution of a plan however maturely ripened and deliber- 
ately adopted ; and will set aside an old plan of which the 
gloss is worn ofE, to revel in some brand-new speculation; some 
«« fire-new stamp of honor/' I have passed many anxious 
hours in cogitations growing out of this weakness of his. 
But I think it will all come right. He has a gigantic capa- 
city for work, when he is stimulated to exertion, and makes 
all difficulties yield before him. 

September 11th. The dear old commodore has not gone 
yet, but as the board of which he is president is to meet on 
the 16th in New York be must necessarily take his departure 
soon. I shall not, however, as you suppose, remain here unin- 
terruptedly. The expedition I told you of is in full prepara- 
tion, and I shall take my place in it. I am a little afraid to 
write freely on the subject, afraid that something may happen 
to my letter. But you must content yourself with knowing, 
for the present, that no change of consequence has been made 
in our plans. ... It is certainly quite an honor, and I am 
sensible of it, to be retained here. I do not mean to under- 
value it : but at the same time I think the place a temporary 
one only, not permanent. In regard to the duties of the 
bureau, I fit in, that is my chief recommendation. There 
are no rubs, no contradictions, no quarrels, and hitherto no 
misunderstandings. I keep my little sphere of duties active 
and well-ordered, and am on friendly terms with everybody. 
My position as member and secretary of the mixed commis- 
sion is a confidential one, and of considerable use — great 
use I should say. We are constantly consulted, and have 
had a meeting to-day. To come back to our Bureau of Detail, 
it is in some respects rather an incumbrance than a conven- 
ience to the assistant secretary, who would prefer to answer 
most of the applications himself. In one word I have great 
doubts of its permanent existence. 



134 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

September 18th. Yesteiday Commodore Panlding took his 
final leave of the offiee and left me in charge. But my reign 
will be very short-lived. My Soathem expedition takes me 
off very soon. To-day I give up the ^ Nautical Almanac" I 
am sorry to do it, bat I could not retain it, and it is always 
mine when I want it Winlock takes my place, and he will 
be glad to get it. 

There are two facts brought out in Davis's connec- 
tion with the Navy Department at this time which might 
be worth the notice of any one who cared to make a 
study of naval administration, if, indeed, it were worth 
any one's while to do so. The first is, that the exist- 
ence of an admiralty board, charged with the initia- 
tion and suggestion of naval affairs, was, for no clearly 
ostensible reason, kept a secret. Whatever the reasons 
for secrecy may have been at the time, they are not 
apparent now, and as the question has become a matter 
of history, there can be no impropriety, at this distance 
of time, in recording and discussing the fact. The 
necessity for such a board might be sufficiently mani- 
fest, and it is difficult to see in what manner its open 
recognition could do harm to the public service. The 
other fact is that the vigilance of the department was 
not sufficient to guard from publicity the proceedings 
and results of a military commission planning hostile 
operations on the enemy's coasts, and whose very exist- 
ence should have remained a profound secret ; and that 
the public at the North, and the enemy at the South, 
became cognizant of the department's intentions almost 
as soon as they were formulated and approved. The 
juxtapodtion of these two facts is very suggestive. 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1861 186 

But there was another serrice in which Davis was 
engaged in the summer of 1861, which has been more 
far-reaching in its results than his labors in the bureau 
or as member and secretary of the conference. He was 
a member of the board on ironclad ships, the famous 
board which authorized the building of the Monitor} 

The board recommended the construction of three 
armored vessels, the New Ironsides^ the Gaienay and 
the Monitor. The latter was the design of a for- 
eigner, a Swede, to whose mind the conception of a 
water war-machine had been suggested in youth by the 
contemplation, in the waters of his own country, of 
rafts of logs with little huts built upon them. This 
remarkable circumstance, like the anecdote of Newton 
and the apple, has been cited as an easy and familiar 
illustration of genius. The Monitor made so dramatic 
a figure in the civil war that it is hardly possible, even 
now, to discuss, without incurring the charge of preju- 
dice, the true lesson which she left when she sank at 
the end of a tow-line. But the board of 1861 stated in 
guarded and temperate language the exact truth with 
regard to her qualities, and its opinion could be reiter- 
ated to^y as a just and impartial judgment on her 
design. 

The board has been accused of prejudice and igno- 
rance. It has been said that its members were obstruc- 
tionists, standing in the way of progress and improve- 
ment. It has been said of Davis in particular that he 
held out against the Monitor design beciause he could 
not be satisfied of the vessel's stability, and only yielded 

1 ThiB board was established by act of Congress of August 3, 1861. 



136 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

at last at the personal intercessioii of the President. 
This accusation rests on hearsay evidence alone, but it 
is probably untrue, because Davis knew that the defect 
of a raft, as a form of ship, is not want of stability, but 
rather excess of stability, a truth which his critics have 
mostly failed to apprehend. So far from a desire to 
obstruct, the board was willing to adopt the design be- 
cause it recognized the fact that shipbuilding was at 
that time in a transition stage, and to quote its own 
language,^ ** This plan of a floating battery is novel, but 
seems to be based upon a plan which will render the 
battery shot and shell proof/' The board guarded its 
recommendation by the reasonable proviso that the 
builder should guarantee, under penalty, the points and 

* So far M it relates to the Monitor design, the leport of the boazd 
may be quoted in fnU : ** Our immediate demands seem to xeqniie, first, 
so far as praotioable, vessels inTulnenible to shot, of light dnoght of 
water, to penetrate oar shoal harbors, rivers, and bayons. We therefore 
faTor the oonstmetion of this elass of yessels before going into a more 
peif eet system of large ironelad sea^going yessels of war. . . . 

«/. J^riesMm, New York. — This plan of a floating battery is norel, 
bat seems to be based upon a plan whioh will render the battery shot and 
sheU proof. We are somewhat apprehensiye that her properties for sea 
are not saoh as a sea-going yessel ahoold possess. Bat she may be moyed 
from one plaoe to another on the eoast in smooth water. We recommend 
that an experiment be made with one battery of this description on the 
terms proposed, with a gnarantee and forfeiture in ease of failure in any 
of the properties and points proposed. 

^ Price 1275,000 : length of yessel, 172 fM; ; breadth of beam, 41 feet; 
depth of hold, 11} feet ; time, 100 days; draught of water, 10 feet; dis- 
placement, 1266 tons; speed per hour, statute miles.'' 

Dayis was the junior member of the board, and probably drew up the 
report The other members were Commodores Joseph Smith and Hiram 
Ftalding. The Jfonttor was only one of many designs, all more or less 
noyel, sabmitted for consideration. See the Report of ike Secretary ofikt 
Nwsyfor 1862, Appendix. 



THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN 1881 137 

properties claimed for the vesseL It also recognized 
the peculiar necessities of the country at the time^ and 
the fact that the Monitor could be built and made avail- 
able in haste. This surely is not obstruction. 

After the dramatic combat in Hampton Roads, the 
Monitor became the recognized type of armored ship 
for the United States navy, and it remains, in the 
popular mind, the American standard to this day. Its 
extreme advocates went so far as to build an entire class 
of these vessels which actually would not float with 
their guns and stores on boards such was the mania for 
excessively low freeboard and decks awash with the sea ; 
in other words, for the raft body. It has been said that 
the Monitor revolutionized naval warfare. It would 
be more correct to say that the first combat between 
ironclad ships revolutionized naval warfare. It is a 
perfectly obvious proposition that any recognized iype 
of steamship with six inches of armor on her sides 
would have done better in the fight in Hampton Roads 
than the Monitor did. It is also a fact that this com- 
bat relieved the people of the North from a state of 
terror, and left them in no condition of mind to pro- 
nounce an impartial judgment. The several nations of 
Europe, passing through the transition stages of naval 
development, immediately abandoned the Monitor and 
her prototypes ; and the revolving turret, the only fea- 
ture of real merit in the whole design, was not, proba- 
bly, an original conception of the inventor of the ship. 

The defects of the Monitor type are, excessive sta- 
bility at the expense of steadiness as a gan platform ; 
extremely limited endurance or radius of action ; total 



138 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

lack of reserve of buoyancy ; extreme slowness of fire ; 
inability to move, even from port to port, without a 
consort; extreme slowness in speed and manoeuvre; 
and total inability to cruise and keep the seas. The 
advantages to set off against these objections are appar^ 
ent invulnerability, and the minimum of target surface. 
That is, the ship is preeminently a defensive battery 
with the minimnm of offensive power; but she pos- 
sesses another quality which has given her a transcendent 
value in American eyes ; she is a cheap and ingenious, 
and at the same time a spurious and trivial substitute 
for a recognized and accepted standard in war. 

It may seem far-fetched to trace the causes of the 
popularity of the Monitor back to Magna Charta ; but 
the supineness and indifference of the people towards 
military and naval affairs, and the hostility to standing 
armies and to regular methods of warfare, both on land 
and at sea, which is inherent in the nation's blood, are 
founded upon the security and jealousy of civil liberty. 
The amateur in war has always the nation's sympathy, 
— he is ready-made and' picturesque, — but let the 
citizen be trained to proficiency in the profession of 
arms, and he becomes an object of aversion. ^^ Go to ! 
I hate him and his trade." In the darkest days of the 
Revolution, it was always safe to insult the army ; in 
the hour of success, it was considered a politic and 
expedient thing to do so. But it was the wisdom of 
the immortal leader who was first in war (and easily 
first in peace), which could reverse the popular creed, 
and teach his army to be good soldiers first and better 
citizens afterwards, and which saved the country from 
the miseries of military despotism. 



THE NAVY DEFABTMENT IN 1861 189 

The navy could never be feared as a menace to civil 
liberty at home, but it has felt the full force of the 
nation's aversion to everything military except names. 
Warfare was learned as a lesson in tiie four years from 
1861 to 1865, and it was learned thoroughly because 
it was learned in anguish. What would have been 
thought of a leader who, at the end of the civil war, 
should have proposed that armies should be organized 
without hea^y infantry or artillery, and with only a 
skirmish line strong enough to drive in the enemy's 
outposts, but too weak to meet his columns in battle ? 
Tet that was precisely the naval policy of the country 
as exemplified in the heavy frigates, like the Indepmd- 
ence for example, and up to and even including the 
period of the civil war itself. The frigates left a glo- 
rious legacy to the navy and to the country. If not 
war, they were at least magn^cent and perilously near 
war ; but the deluded champions of the Monitor could 
find, in the revulsion which f oUowed the civil war, a 
plan of passive defense better suited to the temper of a 
people blinded by prejudice, unversed in naval affairs, 
and deceived by success in a circumscribed field, and 
insist that the safety of the republic, with three thou- 
sand miles of ocean frontier, must be intrusted to ships 
which could not cruise or keep the seas, which could 
neither fight at sea, chase, nor run away, and whose 
virtues in combat were the virtues of the armadillo ; 
and in such craft American seamen might skulk in 
^^ shallow harbors, rivers, and bayous," where an active 
enemy could not get at them, but must be left at 
large, to ravage everything else in sight. 



140 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

Happily, as the nation begins to awake to the obliga- 
tions of its power, this delusion is passmg. A teacher 
of our own — I had almost written a prophet, for he 
has not been without honor save in his own country 
— has shown in a new light the true meaning of the 
sea-power. We now know ^ that the judgment of the 
board of 1861 was exactly correct, and that, as far as 
they relate to the real naval interests of this country, 
the expedient of the frigate and the fallacy of the 
Monitor are as dead as the Arian Heresy. 

^ ThiB obapter was written before the war with Spain. It is needless 
to addnoe the ezperienoe of that war to prove the ntter inadequacy of 
the Monitor type in sexioos naval operations : and yet more of these ves- 
sels are to be boilt 



CHAPTER Vm 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 



The preceding chapter has dealt exclosivelj ivith 
Davis's official service in the Navy Department in 186L 
It may not be amiss to take a brief glance at his 
private life and surroundmgs m Washington at tiiis 
most exciting period of history. When Davis was 
snmmoned to Washington in May he came on alone, 
leaving his family in Cambridge. There were several 
reasons for not breaking up the household. In the 
first place, it was commonly supposed that the war 
would only last a few months. The Confederate army 
was to be driven out of Virginia, Richmond was to 
be captured at once, and the rebellion suppressed in 
the border States ; after which, if any forces remained 
in arms, the subjugation of the South would be a 
simple matter. That was the popular conception of 
the war, in which almost everybody shared. Moreover, 
as the summer advanced, and the Norihem armies met 
with reverses rather than successes, Washington was 
too precarious a situation for a home. New England 
was safe, and Davis's children were at school in Cam- 
bridge ; so he lived alone in lodgings in Washington, 
and stuck to his post, only making one short visit 
home during the whole of the spring and summer, and 



142 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

until his final detachment from the Bureau of Detail in 
September. 

His associates were those officers with whom he was 
connected at the department, Bache of the coast sur- 
vejy Henry of the Smithsonian Institution, Greneral 
Totten, the chief of engineers, and most particularly, 
after the organization of the conference, Du Pont 
Besides these, there were several private houses which 
he visited familiarly, for . his frequent journeys to 
Washington before tiiewarhad made him intimate in 
Washington society. As a relaxation from tiie cares 
and anxieties of official life he read, for he was always 
an omnivorous reader, though he says : ^^ When I first 
came to Washington I was so wearied and dazed with 
the six or seven hours at the desk, and in the business 
of the office, that I only opened a book to make use of 
it as a soporific. In this way I waded slowly through 
the mud and water of one or two literary narcotics. 
My eyenings were mostly spent in visiting. But as I 
began to work into the ruts of this new and not agree- 
able life, the habit of reading began to reassert its 
influence." Even in the midst of war's alarms, his 
letters abound in allusions to, and criticisms of, the 
books he reads. 

The letters themselves are fragmentary and discon- 
nected. Although he wrote nearly every day, he was 
obliged to seize on odd moments in the intervals of 
business, and he made no effort to teU a continuous 
story. Still he was a ready writer, and his letters occa- 
sionally contain pictures or criticisms of passing events, 
and, even fragmentary as they are, some of these 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 143 

sketches throw a light on the times. Moreover, they 
are characteristic. There are many private and personal 
allusions which are nnsnitahle for publication, though 
his critimms of men are never unfair. He was gen- 
erous and chivalrous by nature, and he never measured 
others by simply a reference to his own standard. A 
few extracts are given, and it must be premised that 
they form portions of the letters already quoted in the 
preceding chapter; but a separation of subjects has 
seemed advisable. 

May Ist. I reached here Saturday night at half past ten, 
by the way of Annapolis, a longer and more tedious route 
than the old one. We stayed long enough in Annapolis for 
seeing the Academy grounds and troops. The watch fires 
along the line of road from Annapolis to the Junction and to 
the capital, the encampments and the multitude of soldiers, 
had a peculiar effect. Bache and hb wife gave me a most 
cordial welcome. I have not seen enough of the world here 
to acquire any new ideas about the war or to learn anything. 
Yesterday I passed the entire day with the commodore 
[Paulding] ; and to-day I am at the department trying to see 
through a miUstone, and in such a hurry that I have only 
timeto say that I am welL 

After this brief note Davis returned to Cambridge to 
settle his affairs at home, and make preparations for 
permanent duty in Washington, which he reached again 
on May 13th. 

May 14th. Washington and the District will form the 
great military camp and centre of operations, and an active 
campaign will not be begun until the number of troops is con- 
siderably augmented. The plan of the campaign is supposed 
to embrace Harper's Ferry, Norfolk, and Bichmond. 



144 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

The exact number of men here is not known. I have talked 
with army officers, and think there are between 22,000 and 
25,000 men; and in the District 12,000 to 15,000 more. 
There is a feeling of security noto, but I leam from every one 
that the alarm at one time was extreme. It was thought that 
conquest and famine were imminent, and there was, in truth, 
the greatest probability that even a small force of resolute 
men, backed by the secessionists here, would have taken the 
city with ease. The enemy lost a great chance, a very great 
chance, one that will not return. I wonder at the supineness 
of the rebels. It was a great opportunity lost. Bache says 
they did not move because they could not proyision a force 
of six thousand men. I shall write again to>morrow, and 
scribble in the greatest hurry. 

May 15th. It is the general impression here that Wash* 
ington will be attacked, but the city is secure. If other occu- 
pation is found for the Southern army the attack will not be 
made. The state of things seems to be this: that neither 
party is ready for the other yet. The Virginia troops aie 
not ready to take possession of Arlington Heights, and the 
gOYemment wishes to avoid treading on Virginia soil before 
the election of the 28d instant and furnishing the secessionists 
with an argument. There is abundant evidence of the exist- 
ence of a Union feeling in eastern Virginia, increased by the 
forced contributions, authorized thefts, and violence of war. 
How much this feeling may be kept under and suppressed 
remains to be seen. We still hope that secession may be 
rebuked by the vote of the 23d. It is a sign of the times 
that a number of horses, saddled and bridled, are standing 
all day long at the different offices of the War Department. 

May 18th (17th ?). Since writing yesterday, I have heard 
the opinion of clever army officers, and think that there is a 
good deal of uneasiness about Arlington Heights, the possession 
of which, gained without difficulty by the enemy, would annoy 
and injure this part of the city, though it would not lead to 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 145 

tbe oaptare of Washington. It is said that neither side is 
prepared to open the campaign ; and particularly that Gen- 
eral Scott will wait for greater numbers, and more perfect 
discipline, before provoking active hostilities. I am glad to 
see that the rebel force is increased at Harper's Feny. The 
position is inside onr base of operations, can be cut off and 
shut up, and employs a good nmnber of the most efficient 
troops. 

May 18th. The longer I stay here, the more I am struck 
with the unprepared state of things generally. Captain 
Meigs (now colonel) has told me that Fort Pickens is badly 
provided with shot and shell, and I know that a thousand of 
the latter have been supplied by the navy, though they aie 
not yet on their way. I am every day more satisfied that 
Greneral Scott will proceed with great deliberation ; will wait 
till his troops aie more perfectly drilled and have accumulated 
in greater numbers. A gentleman who dined with him yester- 
day told me this morning that he (the general) estimated 
the troops under arms in Virginia at 40,000), very well offi- 
oered) unequally armed^ and with a deficient commissariat. 
The military policy may be adopted of waiting for an attack 
and not commencing the war ourselves. A great deal of the 
strength of Virginia may be ezpended^ for example, on Fort 
Monroe, which they seem crazy to take, and also in building 
up, and occupying during the hot weather, the environs of 
Norfolk. There will no doubt be active movements in the 
West and on the Mississippi Biver when the cold weather of 
the autumn authorizes it, or even before. 

May 20th. I witnessed the swearing in of a regiment (Grer- 
man) the other day. The sight was not a grand one. Some 
thirty refused to take the oath, ten of whom came in after- 
wards, while the remaining twenty were drummed out amid 
tbe hisses, groans, and whistling (a F Allemagne) of their 
comrades. 

May 25th. We have had an exciting time this morning. 



146 CHARL£S HENBY DAVIS 

Poor EUsworih'B funeral ; an attack on the New Jersey regi- 
ment at the Chain Bridge by the YirginianB ; and the report 
of a fight at Sewall's Point The alaiin gans were fired for 
the first time, and war is actually began. The Navy Depart- 
ment is well prepared with rifles and reyolvers. The bells 
are now ringing, and it wotdd seem that the alarm continues. 
The Commodore, Woodhull, and the clerk are loading the 
muskets (rifles) in the room where I am now writing. . . . 
The reports thus far are good ; Sewall's Point is said to be 
captured, and the Virginians are said to be repulsed at Chain 
Bridge. Thb is on the bulletin at the War Department, but 
has yet to be confirmed. 

May 28th. Mr. Fox said to me the other day that a pri- 
vate concern would be ruined by conducting business as it is 
carried on here. It calls for the exercise of all my self-con- 
trol and discretion to refrain from speaking upon subjects 
that do not concern me. Don't imagine I tell you all I see, 
and don't repeat what I teU. The First New Hampshire 
Begiment arrived last night and was reviewed by the President 
this morning, — a fine looking regiment, perfectly equipped, 
with a dozen or more baggage wagons, an ambulance, etc It 
is said to be the most perfectly provided of all that have 
come. 

June 16th. Living in Washington one sees some of the 
peculiar distresses of civil war ; families divided and the dif- 
ferent members arrayed against each other in the two armies. 
There is a young man here from the South whose case is a 
most melancholy one. His family refuse all intercourse with 
him ; his mother sends back his letters unopened, and he has 
now made his last appeal to her by sending his Bible, a pre- 
sent from his mother when he left home, with a final letter. 
This incident is as touching and striking as the killing of the 
&ther by the son, and the reverse, in Henry VI. When I 
went over to see Fort Seward, the tite dupont on the other 
side of the Long Bridge, I met with a young officer of engi- 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 147 

neers from South Carolinai who was oonstruoting the fort, 
and who told me that he had ten uncles in the secession army. 
To have ten uncles anywhere is remarkable; but to have 
them drawn up in battle array against one nephew is a rare 
combination, • . • A great many families in Washington are 
divided among themselves. ... I hear a great deal and 
think a great deal of this distress, and have a sentiment of 
enduring gratitude for our exemption from this woeful addi- 
tion to our present troubles. It is better to be all on one side, 
or aU on the other, and not, like poor Cordelia, see before us 
a divided duty. I am most happy that you are in a place 
remote from the scenes of war, their pains, agitations, and 
anxieties. . • . The next point is the Manassas Gap, or Junc- 
tion, from which we are to hear. It is very evident that we 
are on the eve of a great event there, and of some important 
occurrence at Winchester. It is not impossible that McClel- 
lan's advance column may have reached Winchester before 
Johnston. Whichever party gets there first will probably 
intrench itseU ; but if we are there first, we have the advan- 
tage of having made an advance on our intended line of move- 
ment ; but if Johnston should garrison his forces there, he 
will oidy repeat the blunder of Harper's Ferry. If, on the 
other hand, Greneral Johnston should retreat toward the main 
line, crossing the Blue Bidge at the Paris Gap for example, 
and either wait reinforcements from Bichmond or join Gen- 
eral Beauregard, a big fight would, I suppose, take place 
somewhere on the rolling country west of Alexandria.^ I 
hear that Greneral Beauregard means to strike a blow. It is 
certain that extreme activity prevails in our vicinity. The 
intrenchments on the other side from Alexandria, with Chain 
Bridge, including Arlington Heights, are fortified with heavy 
artillery (siege gpans), the troops about Alexandria are drawn 
in and massed, the scouts are very active, and General 

^ Considering the events that aotnallj tzanspired, this is a clever sum- 
maiy of the situation. 



148 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

Sohenck's brigade, comprising two thousand men, moved 
across the river night before last. 

June 18th. Mr. S.^ returned home last night, to the great 
joy of his wife and daughter, and to .his own satis&ction. 
He was entirely surprised to find his family safe, and living 
on such good terms with their neighbors, particularly their 
neighbors of different political opinions. Such were the ap- 
prehensions inspired in his mind by the rumors and exagger- 
ations of his correspondents that he expected to be arrested 
and to have his baggage searched at every stopping-place 
between Boston and Washington. In fact, it is a thing that 
strikes one very much, the free intercourse of persons whose 
friends are fighting in the opposing ranks. We are living 
in constant expectation of some great event, though what it 
is to be I don't know. We are surrounded by incident, so to 
, speak. The ^rumors of war," which constitute one of the 
evils of a state of war, fill our ears and produce incessant agi- 
tations. 

June 21st. I had the pleasure to see Tom Motiey last 
night at William Lee's. He and the historian have been in 
town some days, the latter on public business, being a bearer 
of dispatches from Enghmd. The accounts from that coun- 
try are a little more satisfactory. But how the English hate 
broke out at flrsti It is deep-seated and hearty. Have we 
got to drink the bitter cup of humiliation and d^radation 
in witnessing the triumph of our enemies in our national 
ruin? *^ We will cry to Qod most high, unto Gh)d that per- 
formeth all things for us," to save us from this affliction. 
Motiey says that the Southern agents, having the start of us, 
and making free use of the falsehood which has been their 
chief instrument in promoting secession, persuaded the British 
government that the Confederate States had possession of 
Washington, and that the bonds of union were so entirely 
dissolved that only the Southern States remained together. 

^ A person whose identity is now lost 



^^J^ 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 149 

• • • William Lee gave me an aooount of his introdaction of 
Loihrop Motiley to Oeneral Soott They were profuse in 
their mutoal compliments and praises, and the general called 
for champagne, *^ green seal," looking, perhaps, upon Motley 
as his future historian. I heard one or two anecdotes of the 
generaL Spealdng of the Ohio troops being led into am- 
buscade last Tuesday, he said that the commanding officer 
dumped them down between the batteries like so much dead 
freight. He said also that he oould manage all his generals 
except Greneral Impatience. 

July 18th. Mr. S. and his fomily leave Washington be- 
cause he has no means of living here, and is obliged to 
depend on rich friends for the means of support He is a 
prot^g6 of Mr. M., to whom he owes his appointment ; and he 
resigned because Mr. M. resigned, and if Mr. M. had not 
resigned he would not have resigned. What a queer thing 
to hold such a relation to another man that he becomes the 
honor, the law, and the conscience of his hanger^m, or dis- 
ciple, or admirer! And how worse than stupid to throw 
himself at his time of life, with his fomily , on the charity of 
friends I Strange weakness and infatuation I 

July 16th. I should think less of the task of writing if I 
had anything to write about. The great news of the day, 
and of history, is the war news, and that you have in the 
papers better than I can give it. • • . The desperate state of 
feeling among the Southerners here shows itself in nothing 
so much as their misrepresentations and exaggerations. They 
deceive themselves, and are willing to be deceived. A week 
ago last Friday, that is, eleven days ago, a crazy secessionist 
told Dn Font that in six days from that day we, the Union- 
ists, would be ^ whipped out of our boots," and that in sixty 
days the city of Fhiladelphia would be laid under contribu- 
tion ; and, moreover, there were one hundred and twenty-five 
thousand men under Beauregard in Virginia. The gentleman 
believed all this, and he and his associates live on such hopes. 



150 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

They tell each oiheT exaggerated stories, magnify little inci- 
dents, suppress disagreeable tmths, and talk big (to use a 
Tulgar phrase), like frightened children. So far is it from 
being likely that we are to be ^^ whipped out of our boots '* 
(I wear gaiters), that we are to make the forward movement 
ourselves to-day or to-morrow. This I tell you because it will 
be known before my letter reaches you. 

July 21st. The office, or bureau, is very quiet on Sun- 
days. The day is a remarkably pleasant one ; the air is 
fresh, yet soft, balmy, and not too warm. The birds are 
singing in the thick foliage of the yard, where they are never 
disturbed, and all I see and hear was, a moment ago, in 
keeping with the stillness of a Sabbath morning. But since 
I began to write, the rumbling of heavy transportation wagons 
over the stones of the Avenue has broken the silence of the 
morning and the hush of nature ; and, still further to distract 
the solemnity of the day, the messenger has just brought up 
word that the enemy's batteries at Bull ]^un have been 
turned, and that fighting is going on there. 

July 22d. I wrote the letter that goes by this same mail, 
but found no opportunity to send it yesterday. I meant to 
take it to the hotel last evening on my way to the Smith- 
sonian, where I drank tea, but forgot it. The sad news of 
this morning has made us feel particularly unhappy, because 
we had received good news last evening. I find it difficult 
to confine my thoughts to the business of the office. There 
is the greatest fault-finding and discontent. Every one is a 
general and a military critic, and every one, as is generally 
the case in times of misfortune and ill luck, is ready to con- 
demn and to indulge in ill temper. For my* own part, I am 
inclined to think that the present state of feeling is very 
much exaggerated, and that the results are not so very bad 
as reported. But the details are discouraging, and the more 
I hear the more I fear for the end. However, it is useless 
to sit here giving expression to doubts and hopes and fears 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 151 

altogether fluctuating, yague, and uncertain. Like Macbeth, 
I 'm sick at heart (Seyton, I say !)• If the worst comes to 
the worst, I am determined to serve in the intrenchments. 
My hands are not of much use in working, but my head 
might be in directing. I have more than once spoken to you 
of my new experience of the meaning of the phraae ^^ rumors 
of war." The ^^ catching" nature of fear, the idea of cojp- 
stemation^ are both brought out in this crisis. There is an 
old croaker here, who, himself a Pennsylyanian, is made one 
half a secessionist by a Southern wife. He has been in the 
department this morning, and has reminded me of Edgar 
Poe's raven. One listens, or thinks he ought to listen, with 
respect to the words of a man who talks upon matters per- 
taining to his own profession ; but this croaking dog, whose 
wishes half <ireated hb opinions and statements, presented 
such a picture of the condition of the army, its losses and 
defeats, as made me want to choke him. ... It is raining 
hard, and the gloomy weather adds to the depression occa- 
sioned by the melancholy news. 

July 23d. Yesterday was a day of the deepest gloom. 
It was a day that recalled the scenes of history and historical 
painting, in novels and in the drama. Great excitement pre- 
vailed. Notwithstanding the rain, people stood about in 
groups and talked mysteriously, or listened to some straggler 
from the other side. Many countenances wore an e:qiression 
of alarm, all of anxiety. It was a long time before the 
clerks could get to work ; they sat in listless apathy. Wood- 
huU, who was among the most excited, burst out, while I was 
sitting at the desk writing, into expressions of astonishment 
at what he called my coolness; though, as there was no 
danger immediately threatening us, there was no occasion for 
the exhibition of coolness. He was running round in the 
pouring rain as if set in motion by springs, and unable to 
keep stilL Such was the alarm that the storm which hung 
the heavens in black was hailed with delight as an impedi- 



162 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

ment to the march of the rebels, who, it was feared, would 
follow up their retreating foes and inTade the oapitaL I 
shared, of course, in the alarm and depression ; but after I 
had made up my mind to put on my uniform and go into 
the intrenohments in the event of an attack, I felt better, 
wrote all the morning and two hours in the evening. • • . 
This morning the alarm has somewhat subsided, and a sterner 
feeling has taken its place. I presume that now the necessity 
for establishing large camps for training, as in Emrope, will 
be recogniaed, and a sufficient number of troops brought into 
the field to render all opposition useless* This defeat puts 
us upon our mettle. If we cannot rise superior to it, if we 
are not stimulated to greater exertion by it, we are unworthy 
to succeed. But I feel the strongest assurance that the people 
are fully equal to the trial to be sustained and the effort to 
be made. 

July 24th. We are having an awful time here in Washing- 
ton. I have witnessed alarms on board ship, but those were 
on a small scale. A panic in a great city, and that city the 
capital of the country, is quite another thing. You know 
we speak of some people in the common intercourse of life 
as being desponding, as taking a melancholy view of things, 
looking on the dark side. But now, for the first time, I 
understand what an alarmist is ; and, next to an incendiary, 
he is the greatest curse and pest of society in time of war 
or general calamity. He runs about reciting in the ear of 
every one whatever he has heard or can invent of horrible, 
dispiriting, disastrous, unfortunate, and discouraging; and 
gives to his language additional force and emphasis by winks 

and shrugs and grimaces and whisperings. Mr. ^ is one 

of these men. They are like the persons who delight to tell 
stories of fearful accidents and dreadful calamities. Mr. 
— - has been keeping everybody who would listen to him in 



a state of anxiety by alarming statements, duly authenti- 
^ Name tappzeased; not a hiatoziesl pencmsge. 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 153 

eated, that the enemy is approaching in force, that oar army 
is demoralized and disorganized, and, finally, that the cause 
is lost. I told him that I was sick and tired of his croaking, 
and, for my part, would rather die at once than endnre the 
thousand daily deaths he pat the victims of his fears to. I 
seldom have passed a more unpleasant day than this, and I 
shall be glad when the arriyal of more troops and of Oeneral 
McClellan silences the alarmists. 

July 25th. I dined with Du Pont at Baohe's yesterday, 
and I did hope when I left the office that I should get rid of 
** war's alarms," the hopes and fears of war, but the convert 
sation at the dinner-table was upon no other subject ; and 
when I returned home at half past ten o'clock my landlady 
told me that Mr. So-and-So and Mr. So-and-So had just 
been in to tell her that the enemy would be here before the 
morning, and that we should all be carbonadoed and eaten, 
and plundered and sold for slaves; and this morning Mr. 
has beg^ his croaking as soon as I got to the depart- 
ment. But I hear that the troops who suffered in the battle 
have been replaced by new regiments; and no anxiety is felt, 
as far as I can see, by those whose judgment is to be relied 
upon. Still, I shall not feel easy till more men arrive, and 
to-day and to-morrow must be days of care and apprehension, 
founded, in my case, principally on my ignorance of the facts 
and inability to make up an opinion. If we are in danger, 
the superior officers of the army must be singularly incapable 
and inefficient. But I think we are not in danger, and I 
hope soon to eat my meals in peace, and cease to sleep in 
the affliction of such disagreeable dreams as were occasioned 
by my drinking a double allowance of chasse after coffee, 
there being both white and red cura^oa on the table last even- 
ing. 

July 80th. It is quite an exercise of mental discipline to 
collect my thoughts enough to write to you amid all the dis- 
tractions of this office. But the effort it costs is a profitable 



154 CHAELES HENKT DAVIS 

one, and I do not doubt that I shall experience real benefit 
from it in some futore emergency of life. Every now and 
then it comes over me with a newer, deeper, and more solemn 
impression, that we are in the midst of civil war ; and, still 
worse, that the end of that war has been indefinitely post- 
poned, and the conflict rendered more bloody than it would 
have been, by the recent unfortunate defeat. Last Sunday 
I heard confidentially a brief explanation of (General Scott's 
plan of the campaign. If he had been allowed to cany it 
out, it would have been praised by history as wise and suc- 
cessful. The premature movement into which the general 
was forced by public clamor, acting directly and through the 
Cabinet, has put things back without doubt. Still, if it has 
no worse results than the defeat of Bull Bun, it will prove 
nothing more than a mortification, — and a mortification we 
needed to check our presmnption and teach us prudence. 
JffuUum numen dbesty si ait prudentia* Since Greneral Mc- 
Clellan's arrival, there has been a manifest improvement in 
certain things, commenced, however, before he came. Imme- 
diately after the battle, there were quantities of stragglers 
about the streets from the disorganized and demoralized regi- 
ments, and many of them drunk and dangerous. A stop has 
been put to this ; the stragglers have been, most of them, 
sent to their regiments, and a provost marshal has been ap- 
pointed to prevent the liquor-shops from selling to the sol- 
diers. Twenty thousand and more men have come through 
Baltimore, most of whom have come on to Washington. Still, 
the apprehension of Johnston's movements has not, I believe, 
entirely abated. It is a novel and by no means pleasant thing 
to be on the tiptoe of fearful expectation, always on the watch 
for the alarm bell. If a gun is heard, the second and third 
are looked for at the regular interval that sounds the signal 
to arms. If there is continued firing, people rush to the tele- 
graph office to know if there is an attack on the fortified 
camp on the other side. We are more quiet now, however. 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 166 

Aagnst 8d. I asked Greneral Totten, in conversation the 
other evening, why, after all, the advance was made ; and 
his answer was that, to begin with, we felt sure of success, 
and would have been disappointed if General Johnston had 
been a jot less enterprising ; and then, we could afford to 
meet with a repulse, and were justified in taking the chance 
in a case where victory would have had such magnificent 
results. If the Confederates had been defeated, they could 
never have made such a demonstration again. They would 
have dissipated, not, like the witches of Macbeth, into thin 
air, but into thick air. It was not, however, in the calcula- 
tions of General Scott, or his council, that they would suffer 
such an overwhelming repulse, or they never would have 
risked the cajpital as they did. General Scott said (as Gen- 
eral Totten added) that he was perfectly satisfied with the 
manner in which the army was commanded, and most of the 
divisions led, in the field. 

August 5th. Our mess has been increased by the addition 
of Major Barry of the artillery. He has recentiy returned 
from Fort Pickens, and has a countenance bronzed by long 
exposure to the sun and weather. He told me that the 
horses of his battery had traveled so much in railroad cars 
and on board ship from port to port, that they would go on 
board ship or enter a railroad car like men, and that during 
his last voyage from Fort Pickens they were taken from the 
stalls and walked about the decks. Prince Napoleon was at 
the headquarters of General McDowell yesterday, and re- 
ceived from him an explanation of the battie of Bull Bun, 
with the maps. He was very much interested, and passed 
two hours with the general ... I asked Major Barry if the 
defeat was denied ; he laughed and said, by no means. It is 
evident that there is altogether too much good sense and manli- 
ness to attempt to conceal the truth; and there is a healthy 
moral determination to turn the lesson of loss and humiliation 
to the best possible account. This is very grand and hopeful. 



166 CHARLES HENBY DAYIS 

August 6th. I like m j new messmate, Major Barry, very 
mnoh. He is possessed of great bonhomie and sociability, 
and being, as he is, at the head of the artillery of the Army 
of the Potomac, I hear a good deal from him that is inter- 
esting. Last night he went over the varions forts, fortified 
camps, and military posts on the right bank of the Potomac, 
from Alexandria to Harper's Ferry. I ha^e never had so 
strong a feeling of secority as after the recital from him, 
accompanied by some military details. 

I reeor incessantly to my new experiences in this most 
interesting and exciting period, and I think yon will be tired 
of hearing me say how sick I am, heartsick, of the despond- 
ing and doubtful, —^ the Van Twillers of society. Hence- 
forth I shall set them down in my tablets ; my soul will take 
note of them; they have become repulsi-ve to me; I have 
discovered that they are naturally antipathetic to my incU- 
nations and temper. I wonH say anything more about it, 
but can't you imagine how excessively annoying it must be 
to be harassed by vague alarms and tormented by unmeaning 
and indefinite doubts? — ^^I don't see how things are to end," 
and ^ I fear that, after all the fighting is done, we shall be 
no better off than now," and so forth, and so forth. 

History only performs its office when it teaches by exam- 
ple. Yet how few endeavor to interpret the passing events 
by reflecting upon them some light borrowed from the mirror 
of historvl 



On the 18th of September Davis was detached from 
tibe Bureau of Detail and from all duties in Washington, 
and relinquished at the same time the directorship of 
tibe ^' Nautical Almanac," and he was appointed fleet 
captain and chief of staff of the South Atlantic Block- 
ading Squadron, under the command of Flag Officer 
Du Pont. Up to this time the blockade of the whole 



WASHINGTON IN 1861 167 

Atlantic coast from CShesapeake Bay to die Straits of 
Florida had been under one command ; but a division 
was now made into two squadrons, and an expedition, 
aheady alluded to, was fitted out to operate in accord- 
ance with the plans prepared in the conference during 
the summer, and in this expedition Davis took his place. 
He proceeded to New York, where most of die ships 
for the expedition, and for the new blockading squad- 
ron, were preparing for sea, and for the next montii he 
was busily engaged in the equipment and organization 
of this large force. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE POBT BOYAL EXPEDITION 

The Report of the Secretary of the Navy, dated 
December 2, 1861^ contains the following : — 

A seizure of some of the important ports on the obast com- 
manded the early and earnest attention of this department. 
It was found that naval stations and harbors of refuge dur- 
ing the tempestuous seasons would be indispensable if hos- 
tilities were to be continued, and the stations thus secured 
could also be made the points of offensive military opera- 
tions. Shortly after the attention of the government was 
drawn to this subject, a board was convened under the aus- 
pices of the Navy Department, consisting of Captains Samuel 
F. Du Pont and Charles H. Davis of the navy, Major John 
O. Barnard of the army, and Professor Alexander Bache of 
the coast survey, to whom a thorough investigation of the 
coast and harbors, their access and defenses, was committed. 
Several elaborate and valuable reports of great interest, 
exhibiting in minute detail the position, advantages, and 
topographical peculiarities of almost every eligible point on 
the coast, were the results of this important commission. 

In view of the data thus presented, two combined naval 
and military expeditions have already been organized and put 
in action. Such cooperation and concert of action between the 
two arms of the public service were indispensable ; for, though 
the navy alone might assail and capture batteries in some 
positions, it was not within its province or power to retain or 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 160 

garrison them. The operations on shore manif estlj pertained 
to the army, and on such occasions, as soon as the military 
forces were ready for these expeditions, the navy was folly 
prepared and eager for immediate action. 

After some delays, an expedition to Hatteras Inlet, on the 
coast of North Carolina, where piratical depredations had 
become extremely annoying, was undertaken. Flag Officer 
Stringham commanded in person the naval forces on this 
occasion, and Major-General Butler had command of the 
small military detachment of about eight hundred men which 
oooperated ^th the nayy. The expedition was eminently 
successful in the attack upon and capture! of Forts Hatteras 
and Clark. The entire garrison, under the command of 
Samuel Barron, recently and for nearly fifty years an officer 
of the navy, surrendered after sustaining great loss, while 
not a life was sacrificed nor an individual of the Union forces 
wounded. . . . The military force was inadequate to follow 
up this brilliant victory by securing a position upon the main- 
land, and there propitiating and protecting the loyal feeling 
which had begun to develop itself in North Carolina. 

It was intended that the success at Hatteras should have 
been followed in September by a more formidable expedition, 
and the seizure of a more important position farther south. 
Owing to various causes, independent of the Navy Depart- 
ment or the condition of the navy, this movement was un- 
avoidably postponed until the 29th of October, when a fleet 
of forty-eight sail, including transports, a larger squadron 
than ever before assembled under our flag, left Hampton 
Roads. Captain Samuel F. Du Pont, then recently ap- 
pointed flag officer, an officer of great skill and experience, 
and possessing the entire confidence of the department, was 
selected to command this expedition. In addition to his gen- 
eral professional ability, he had, through careful study and 
investigation as chairman of the board which had been ordered 
in June, special qualification and thorough preparation for 



100 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

thB higlilj important and responsible position assigned to 
him. Informed of the policy and views of the government 
in regard to the expedition, prompt to ezeonte its wishes, and 
having made himself familiar with every eligible port on the 
southern Atlantic coast, he, as commander of the expedition, 
was intmsted with the selection, within prescribed limits, of 
the place where the first assault should be made. 

After encountering the severest storm that has visited this 
coast during the present season, which partially dispersed the 
squadron, causing the wreck of several of the transports, and 
compelling even some of the smaller vessels of the navy to 
put back, the fleet, by the merciful interposition of Ftovi- 
denoe, was preserved, and appeared before Port Royal, one 
of the best though neglected harbors on our Southern coast, 
on the fifth day of November. So soon as the channel could 
be buoyed out and other preliminary measures accomplished, 
assaults were made on the well-built and thoroughly armed 
forts, Beauregard and Walker. Consummate naval strategic 
skill and the most admirable gunnery were exhibited in the 
attack, which was of such tremendous effect that General 
Drayton and the rebel army surrendered their strongholds, 
fled the coast with precipitation, leaving their property, 
armament, and papers, while our naval forces took, and still 
hold, quiet possession of one of the finest harbors on the 
Atlantic seaboard. 

A mere glance at the chart will show that on the 
southern Atlantic coast bi the United States^ while the 
harbors are generally shallow and the shoal water extends 
some distance off shore, tibe land itself is cut up into 
innumerable islands formed by a network of rivers and 
sounds^ which makes it possible to approach the prin- 
cipal seaports, in vessels of light draught, from points 
of entrance from the ocean quite remote from the cities 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 161 

themselves. A vessel can reach Savannah^ for instance, 
hy entering the Saint Mary's River at Femandina, 
eighty miles to the southward ; or can approach Charles- 
ton by entering at North Edisto and passing through 
the Stono River and Walloo Creek. Such a geographical 
condition enhanced the difficulty of maintaining an 
effective blockade of the coast, a difficulty still further 
increased by the neighborhood of the Bahama Islands, 
the possession of a virtually hostile power, which be- 
came the entrepot of the profitable business of blockade- 
running. Here the ships from England could enter 
freely and refit, and from this point contraband cargoes 
could be dispatched in light-draught vessels, which 
could slip into any one of the numerous inlets of the 
coast, in water too shallow to permit the close approach 
of a vessel of war. 

The possession and control of these inland waters 
would not only effectually close the principal avenues 
for this traffic, but would be also a great advantage 
from a purely military point of view. By operations in 
these waters it became possible, with the active co5pera- 
tion of land and naval forces, to turn the defenses of 
the seaports themselves, as was actually done in the 
case of Fort Pulaski at the mouth of the Savannah 
River, and this control offered the true strategic advan- 
tage for the approach and capture of the Southern 
cities. It has been shown in a previous chapter that 
such operations were proposed by the mixed conference 
in July; and it has also been shown why it was proV 
ably impossible to carry out these plans. Had the 
battle of Bull Run been a victory instead of a defeat. 



102 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

it might have been possible to send a sufficient army 
into Georgia, and to have carried on a regular invasion, 
with the redaction of the principal cities, simoltaneoosly 
with the great stroggle for the Mississippi River which 
began in 1861 and only ended with ihe surrender of 
Yicksburg and Port Hudson in July, 1863. But even 
then ihe operations would have to be carried on upon a 
vast scale, and it is probably a fortunate thing that not 
only the people of the North, but their leaders, failed 
to comprehend in 1861 the magnitude of the task be- 
fore them. 

The Port Boyal Expedition, therefore, is an isolated 
event, and not one of a regular series forming a cam- 
paign. Its results bore directly upon the blockade, 
and in this respect were important. Flag Officer 
Du Pont attempted with the means at his disposal, and 
with the by no means harmonious cooperation of a 
totally inadequate land force, to carry out the original 
plans of the conference; and the occupation of Port 
Boyal Bay was immediately followed by operations in 
inland waters, the capture of Tybee Island, Fort Pu- 
laski, Femandina, Jacksonville, and oiher important 
points. The expedition consisted of forty-eight ships, 
of which only fifteen were men-of-war, the rest being 
transports and supply vessels, and some of these small 
and unseaworthy craft, including even river ferry-boats; 
but this did not include a fleet of twenty-five colliers 
which sailed on the day previous to the departure of 
the expedition. The army was commanded by Greneral 
Thomas W. Sherman. 

The battle took place on November 7th. Fort 



THE FORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 163 

Walker^ on Hilton Head, the south side of Port Royal 
Bay, was a regularly constructed work, mounting in all 
twenty-three guns of various calibres ; and on the oppo- 
site shore, at Bay Point, was Fort Beauregard, mountr 
ing twenty guns. The width of the bay between the 
forts was more than two miles. Included in the de- 
fenses of Port Royal was a flotilla of gunboats under 
Commodore Tatnall, formerly of the United States 
Navy. 

As has been said, the selection of die point of assault 
was left to Du Pont. The Navy Department had rather 
favored Femandina, but the convincing argument was 
the depth of water at Port Royal, which permitted the 
largest vessels of the navy to enter ; and thus the pri- 
mary object of the expedition, a port of refuge and 
depot of supplies for the blockading squadron, was 
better gained at Port Royal than at any other harbor 
on the coast. 

In the attack^ the order of battle was in a single 
column, headed by the flagship Wdbash^ the other 
ships, in order, being the Sfusqaehannay MoMean, 
Seminohy PawneSy UhadilUiy Ottawa, PaulvMLy and 
the sailing sloop Vandaliay towed by the Isaac Smith. 
A flanking squadron, consisting of the gunboats Bien- 
vilhy Seneca, Curlew, Penguin, and Augusta, was in- 
tended to engage the flotilla under Tatnall. The plan 
of attack was, to stand in with the main squadron 
in mid-channel, engaging Fort Beauregard first, and 
turning above the forts. This manoeuvre enabled the 



^ See Adminl Porter's spirited deaoriptioii of this actioD, Naoal JSTtf- 
tory of the CM War, ehap. yu 



164 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

ships to take the more powerfully armed Fort Walker 
on its upper and weakest flank. In passing Fort 
Walker the engines were slowed to just sufficient speed 
to preserve the order of battle, and Fort Walker en- 
gaged at close range, and ike ships tamed in succesaon 
below the forts and repeated the manoeuvre, engaging 
Fort Walker with the port battery* The flanking line 
also engaged Fort Beauregard at the same time that 
the main squadron was occupied with Fort Walker ; and 
a division of the gunboats also enfiladed the latter from 
above, for Commodore TatnaU had discreetly with- 
drawn his flotilla into Skull Creek, and took no part in 
the battle. At the first broadside from the ships the 
fort replied with great spirit, but as the ships began to 
get the range they pitched shell from their nine and 
eleven inch guns into the midst of the gunners ; and 
when the squadron swept by Fort Walker from the 
north, after turning above the forts for the second 
time, the fire was withering. Again the ships turned 
into the harbor, and delivered their broadsides at even 
closer range. This was too much for the Confederates, 
who fled helter-skelter from their works. Commander 
John Rodgers was sent ashore and hoisted the flag over 
Fort Walker ; and the commander of Fort Beauregard, 
seeing Fort Walker abandoned, also evacuated his post. 
Beauregard had not been considered as an important 
point of attack, but had been engaged at long range 
as the main column passed. 

The direct results of this victory were good. It came 
at a time when the Union arms had been generally un- 
successful, and it inspired confidence at the North. It 



THE PORT EOYAL EXPEDITION 165 

also had a good moral effect abroad^ and it served as a 
lesson to the navy as to what wooden ships could do 
against fortifications^ and set the pace^ so to speak^ 
for future naval operations in the same line. Its bene- 
ficial effect in tightening the bands of the blockade has 
already been noted. This first naval achievement of 
the war has been overshadowed by the later actions in 
the Gulf ^ perhaps for the reason already given, that it 
was an isolated event; but the action itself is worth 
study, because it affords a striking and almost unique 
example of the capture of fortifications by ships.^ The 
tactics of the battle, which were Davis's own, were mas- 
terly; and yet, as will presently appear, the order of 
attack was changed at the very last moment. The 
day before the fight, a reconnoissance was made in force 
to draw the full fire of the forts ; and from the infor- 
mation thus gained a change of plan resulted, which 
was not communicated to the fleet until it went into 
action. This shows the perfect discipline of the fleet, 
and the confidence of the flag officer in himself and in 
his command. The army took no part whatever in the 
attack, but remained outside in its transports, in a state 
of some anxiely and suspense, until the flag over Fort 
Walker announced the victory of the ships. It would 
be premature at this point to trace the ulterior results 
of this action ; and with this brief preamble the narra- 
tive of tie expedition may now be given in Davis's own 
language. The letters are addressed to his wife : — 

^ ThiB chapter was written before the war with Spain. There is a 
striking similarity in the method of attack between Commodore Dewey's 
action in Manila Bay and the battle of Fort BoyaL 



166 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

IT. S. S. Wabash, Oct. 18, 1861. We axe entering 
Hampton Beads, and I must prepare a single line to let you 
know, not onr arriyal, for that you will leam by telegraph, bat 
that I am well, and that we have had a splendid voyage. We 
have had a profitable one, too ; the time has been passed in all 
sorts of practice, and in the exercise of day and night signals. 
This will give us a good start on our next trip. 

Yon shall hear from me again by the next mail, and by 
every mail while we are here, though I shall not have much 
to say. You will be very anxious to know if we have come 
to any decision about our locus in quo. We have not, yet, 
and shall not till we have had an opportunity to consult Gen- 
eral Sherman, though the final decision of the question rests 
with the commodore, who is the commander in chief, and 
ranks with a major-generaL But General S. is entitled to 
be called into counciL You will not be left in doubt, you 
may be assured, if the matter is determined before leaving 
here, and you may rely also on my adherence to my first plan, 
unless I should be fully and fairly convinced of the expedi- 
ency of an alteration. The whole subject will be well weighed. 

Hampton Beads, Oct. 20th. Our transports are still at 
Annapolis; not the first one has come down yet. We are 
glad to be so far in advance of them ; and not sorry to be 
delayed, the weather being rough and easterly. 

Hampton Boads, Oct 21st. It has been blowing very fresh 
all day, and the weather has been boisterous. In the worst 
of the storm, Newport News was threatened with an attack, 
and we sent up two gunboats by signaL Of our squadron, 
two men-of-war belonging to the navy proper, and four or 
five of the purchased steamers, great and small, have arrived 
to-day. Since dark, several steamers have anchored near us, 
and it is probable they belong to the fieet of transports. 

Hampton Boads, Oct. 24th. Last night we had a long coun- 
cil of the generals and ourselves, lasting way into the small 
hours, in which much was discussed and nothing decided. This 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 167 

morning the council was renewed at nine o'clock. We are 
grievouslj disappointed in Mr. Boutelle's^ not arriving. It 
was distinctly understood by Da Pont and myself that Mr. 
Boutelle was to come here post-haste and leave the Vtxen to 
follow. More than a week has elapsed and he is not here. 
The truth is, no doubt, that Bache did not want him to go 
without the Vixen, in order that he might have a coast survey 
vessel in the affair. We have decided in council to wait till 
Saturday morning. But as to-day is pleasant, it is a pity to 
lose it. 

Hampton Boads, Oct. 25th. According to present appear- 
ances, this will not be the last letter you will receive from 
Hampton Boads. The wind went round the wrong way, and, 
by a rule that never fails in our dimate, the easterly storms 
never clear up entirely until the wind goes round by the south 
to west. If we go to sea to-morrow we shall commit a folly 
knowingly, and against the best judgment of the fleet ; and 
yet we may go, for it is a not uncommon fate of such expedi- 
tions to be driven by the force of public expectation, and the 
impatience of public feeling, to move against the opinions 
and wishes of its leaders. I speak from no selfish motive, 
for the bad weather would not affect this ship. The small, 
overloaded and overcrowded steamers, low in the water, would 
be the chief sufferers. I trust better counsels will prevaiL 

General Sherman came on board this afternoon, and was 
received with a salute. His staff accompanied him ; and now 
we are full, having five in the cabin. I felt obliged to offer 
to give up my room to General Sherman, and Bodgers' very 
generously insisted upon giving up his. But Du Pont would 
not consent to either proposition. I must confess, or, as the 

^ Mr. C. O. Boatelle, assistant of the coast snzrey, detailed to assist in 
the hydrographic work of the squadron, on aooonnt of his particular local 
aoqnaintanoe with the Southern coast. 

* Captain, afterwards Bear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry 
Bodgers, a lifelong friend of Davis, commanded the WabasJL 



168 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

phrase is, I am free to confess, that I was very glad to have 
my own offer rejected, which is a little piece of selfishness in 
me. I know, however, that the sofa we put the general on is 
as good*as abed, — is, in fact, made for abed, with a sacking 
bottom, and that otherwise he is more comfortable here than 
on board his steamer, where he was not only cabin'd, as here, 
but cribbed also, and confined ; whereas here he is sofa'd and 
unconfined, — bound in to no saucy doubts and fears. 

Saturday, half past one. Mr. Boutelle arrived on board 
this morning before I was dressed entirely, and the whole 
morning was spent in all sorts of consultations, business, 
worry, fret, and interruption. 

Hampton Boads, Oct. 26th. Before closing my last note 
I told you that Mr. Boutelle had arrived. He was very wel- 
come ; nothing could have supplied the loss of his knowledge 
of the ground. He made the triangulation, the groundwork 
of the survey, of the whole coast of South Carolina, and he 
possesses a taste for topographical details, and a faculty of 
observing, and, so to speak, of interpreting them, which are 
truly wonderful. He lives with us in the cabin, so there are 
now six of us. 

The first thing after breakfast was to send for the other 
generals and have another council of war. The charts and 
maps are reproduced, including many new ones from Wash- 
ington. The generals talked over the matter with Mr. Bou- 
telle, while Du Pont and I wrote without cessation, preparing 
the final orders, and particularly the secret orders communi- 
cating the place of rendezvous in the event of separating. 

To return to the council : Mr. Boutelle answered all their 
questions and r^oved all their scruples, and they came 
heartily into the new plan of operations. He satisfied me 
upon the only point about which I felt anxious ; that is, the 
easy and certain entrance of this ship into the place.^ The 
presence of this ship makes whatever we undertake much 

^ Port Royal Bay. 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 169 

more seonre, and is a more inflaential fact with me than any 
other. And this fact, added to the other two I mentioned in 
one of my former notes, — first, that the whole fleet has a har- 
bor at once, beyond the reach of the batteries, and, second, 
that the points may be assailed one by one, — decides my opin- 
ion. I suppose the matter may be considered as now settled 
and determined. Yoa will, no doubt, be interested in know- 
ing what my impression is of the military commander of the 
expedition, now that I have been two days living with him, 
and seen him in council. He strikes me as clever, candid, 
and dear-minded, but not as being a man with an uncommon 
grasp, of a heroic cast of mind, or of an equable or well- 
controlled temper. His reputation in the army is that of an 
excellent soldier, and a very excitable and passionate man. 
Among the generals are two I have known before, and been 
associated with, — G^eral Stevens, who as Major Stevens 
was assistant in charge of the coast survey office, and who was 
on the commission on Cape Fear River of which I was a mem- 
ber ; and General Wright, who was, when Captain Wright, 
on the conmiission on the St. John's River, Florida, of which 
I was senior member by appointment from General Totten. 

Now that everything is ready, we are very impatient to be 
off. The weather looked promising this morning, and Du 
Pont ordered the signal for getting up steam to be made to 
the whole fleet ; but the wind drew back to the eastward 
again and the fog set in, and the signal for preparation was 
annulled. To-night it is raining, and although we are disap- 
pointed, we are glad not to be at sea with our ferry-boats and 
little tugs in a dark, rainy night, when it would be impossible 
to observe any order of sailing, and when collisions would be 
almost unavoidable. 

Hampton Beads, October 26th. The number of vessels in 
our whole fleet is seventy-five ; but of these a large number 
are sailing vessels loaded with coal and heavy stores, not 
required for immediate use, most of which belong to the 



170 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

army. We send down, under a special oonvoj, all bot three 
or four of the largest and most important of these freight 
vessels ; leaving about forty-eight to form our own fleet, con- 
sisting exclusively of steamships except the three just men- 
tioned, which are to be towed* This harbor of Hampton 
Beads looks like a great city, so numerous are the lights. It 
is frequently observed that so many American vessels, ready 
for sea, were never seen together, for you must remember that 
Commodore Goldsborough is here in the Minnesota^ with 
some of his squadron, men-of-war, storeships, steam tugs, etc. 

Sunday morning, October 27th. It is blowing a gale from 
the north-northeast. To go to sea now would be to condenm 
to certain loss some of our small vessek, and to expose the 
troops and horses in the transports to great suffering. Du 
Pont bears the delay like a man ; but Greneral Sherman frets 
under it very much, and has been talking about landing the 
troops on account of water. 

These delays are the trials of our patience and temper ; a 
part of the anxieties of our condition. They are to be met 
and borne with fortitude and good temper. 

Monday morning. We are doomed to the severest trial of 
delay and defeated expectation. This morning it is bitter 
cold, the north wind strong, and the weather utterly unfit for 
small vessels. One of our small craft came in from New 
York last evening, having barely, and wonderfully, escaped 
destruction* Her escape is the merest wonder. She is 
knocked to pieces, and will require large repairs. This is 
bad for us. Every day's delay creates some new difficulty, 
and adds, probably, to the amount of work to be done when 
we reach our destination. 

Two o'clock. Our great apprehension has been about 
water, of which we consume nineteen thousand gallons a day. 
After endless talk and anxiety about it, it is discovered that 
two of the steamers alone can make forty thousand gallons a 
day. Whence, therefore, the tears? 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 171 

We shall probably sail to-morrow morning at five o'clock. 

Flagship Wabash (at sea), October Slst I told you in my 
letter by the pilot that we sailed yeiy early Tuesday morning. 
It took some time for fifty ships to get under way, especially 
as they were to move in an established order which brought 
them all, in point of speed, to a level with the dullest. It 
was well we started early. The greater part of the day was 
consumed in getting to sea, and in forming the lines and 
columns that constituted the order of sailing. I had pre- 
pared a circular, and a plan of the order. Fifiy copies of 
the last were distributed throughout the fleet, and each cap- 
tain was distinctly informed of his position and enjoined to 
keep it. The captains of the men-of-war, and the heads of 
the columns (leading ships), were furnished with the circular, 
or sailing directions. 

The idea of the order of sailing is to place the long line 
abreast of the men-of-war in front, to command way, and 
range the transports in three columns ahead, in the rear of 
the line abreast, and protected by two men-of-war on each 
flank and two in the rear, to cover both sides and the rear, 
and bring in the stragglers. I was most agreeably surprised 
to see the aptness and accuracy with which the transports 
took their several positions in line. By evening every one 
was in his place, as near, at least, as was to be expected, and 
the columns were distinctly formed with their leaders ahead. 
In the afternoon we fell in with the Bienville^ one of the 
finest of the new steamers, commanded by a fine fellow. Com- 
mander Steedman,^ belonging to our squadron, but not quite 
ready when we sailed. She was towing the Brandytoine^ an 
old frigate converted into a storeship, and designed to lie in 
Hampton Boads for the convenience of the squadron. We 
telegraphed to Steedman where to find his orders, and to use 
dispatch. 

This was very satisfactory, the Bienville being a veiy ser- 

^ Afterwards Rear Admiral Charles Steedman. 



172 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

vioeable vessel on many aocountsy and her oommander a great 
friend of Da Font's. 

The appearance of the fleet at night was as impressive as it 
was uncommon. I have generally pursued my solitary way 
across the ocean, and never known what it was to be in com- 
pany with more than two ships at a time, and that seldom. 
A light at night in the open sea has rather been regarded as 
an object of apprehension, particularly if the night was dark, 
because, before finding out the direction in which the stranger 
was standing, there was a fear of running foul of him.^ But 
now, at night, the sea is covered with lights at eveiy point of 
the horizon, on both sides and astern. Ahead there are none, 
because this ship is the centre of the leading line. But view- 
ing the scene from the quarter-deck, the absence of lights in 
the direction of the ship's head is not felt. Steamers carry 
several lights each, of which the one on the port side b red 
and that on the starboard side green. Variety was not or is 
not wanting, therefore, to add to the glitter and effect of the 
show. We seem to be in the midst of a populous community, 
and yet we do not lose the feeling of being at sea. I am more 
than charmed with the sight. I think of similar expeditions 
that have figured in history ; of great fleets that have followed 
the poop-lantern of distinguished admirals ; and I see now, as 
I never did before, how these looked in reality which we have 
only known about in stoiy. One great contrast presents itself 
to the mind, and that is, the vast superiority of this fleet over 
those of preceding times in the use of steam. I now, for the 
first time in my life, feel a sympathy I never knew before 
with the delays and tedious detentions caused by contrary 
winds and calms, in the management of great expeditions and 
the cruises of great fleets. What, for example, must Nelson 

^ Eimning lighUy as at present used and reqoired at sea, were not 
adopted nntil aboat 1860. FreTions to that time ships carried a white 
light on the bowsprit cap; and in sqoadron the flagship carried a poqp« 
lantern. 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 173 

have suffered, when he was searching for the French fleet in 
the Mediterranean, or when he followed it to the West Indies 
and back, from opposing winds, from gales that obliged him 
to lie to, and from calms 7 Patience is more necessary at sea 
than elsewhere. 

The morning of Wednesday (the SOth) broke very fair. 
The sky was as clear as summer, the wind moderate and 
bracing, and the sea smooth. But in the course of the day 
the aspect of things changed unfavorably. Our course carried 
us off shore, and the sea became gradually more rough as the 
distance from the land increased. The weather would have 
been regarded as altogether favorable but for the smaller 
vessels. They, however, began to complain ; and one of the 
ferry-boats, which seemed to be making excellent way and 
breasting the seas nobly in the morning, gave out and hoisted 
her flag upside down. We sent a vessel to her assistance, 
and before night set in she and several other of the smallest 
vessels of the fleet had disappeared under the charge of one 
of our side-wheel men-of-war, very well suited for such a pur- 
pose. The great body of the fleet, however, remained ; and 
again, after the darkness came on, I gave myself up to the 
admiration of the scene, most beautiful in itself, and eloquent 
with suggestion and association. But the night proved to be 
one of great and unnecessary anxiety. We passed that dread 
of seamen, Hatteras, and, though the time was in all respects 
as propitious as the heart of man could desire, the proceeding 
was threatened with disaster. We had signaled to the fleet 
before sunset to sound frequently during the night. Bodgers 
navigated this ship with great judgment: after feeling the 
projecting talon of the Cape with the lead, we passed over 
into deep water and haided in to the westward. At quarter 
before three I was called and informed that a transport had 
thrown up ten rockets, and at half past three one of the fleet 
made signal that she was aground. The first of the signals 
was a general one of distress. We could render no assist- 



174 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

anoe. This great, lumbering ship would not go to wind- 
ward, where the transport was, with her merely auxiliary 
power of steam. She must be left, whatever her distress 
might be, to her more light-footed companions. The last 
signal had the effect on me which practice is said to have 
upon nnwilUng students of arithmetic, — '* it made me mad/' 
We were then thirteen miles from the outer shoal, and the 
statement was absurd. It came from one of our own vessels, 
and I called for an explanation, but none was made. The 
truth was, that the ground-swell being, as it almost always is 
on this broken ground, very heavy, the captain got alarmed, 
which was excusable enough* 

To finish this part of our story, it was afterwards reported 
to us (the next afternoon) that two or three of the fleet had 
struck on the shoaL If true, it was the residt of the grossest 
carelessness. But I incline to the opinion now, that they 
were deceived by the swell, which was really terrible, and 
occasionally let the ship down with such force that she seemed 
to have struck the ground, instead of the sea at the bottom of 
the hollow of the wave. 

The next day, Thursday, the date at the head of this 
journal, the weather was beautiful, warm, balmy, with light 
winds, and the smooth surface of a summer's sea. 

Yesterday we counted forty-two sail in sight after our tugs 
and ferry-boats parted company. This morning the number 
was reduced to thirty-six, but afterwards went up to forty as 
the day advanced, and we waited for their coming up. 

Thursday was a day never to be forgotten. I told Du Pont 
it was the weather I had bargained for, in answer to his good- 
naturedly twitting me with the bad weather, or sea, of yester- 
day. The established lines of sailing were kept ; the quiet 
sea was filled with the life of our great fleet. Signals, tele- 
graphic communications, and occasional hails conveyed the 
orders, or communicated the news of the day. It was impos- 
sible to leave the deck. The scene was enchanting; and as I 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 175 

looked abroad on the ocean covered with our ships of war 
and transports, the pride of the navy and the strength of the 
army, I participated in the glow and ardor and elation of 
heart inspired, no doubt, by the Armada of Spain, and at- 
tributed and attributable to the commanders of all similar 
expeditions (I sympathize with the commander of this), and 
which proves sometimes to be the pride that goeth before a 
falL In the pride of his heart, 

** He oonnted them at break of day, — 
Bat when the Ban set, where were they ? ^ 

Not. Sd. If I experienced any of the puffing-up of the 
spirit to which I have alluded, and which the philosophical 
teachings of my reflections condemn, the change brought by 
Friday morning (the Ist) was suited to rebuke it. The first 
thing I was told was that it rained, and that the wind had 
haided round to the eastward, which sounded the knell of 
good weather ; the second, that the Isaac Smith (one of our 
purchased war steamers) had hoisted a signal of distress; 
the third, that the smallpox had broken out on board the 
VanderhUty one of the largest and most crowded of the 
transports. 

With regard to the last calamity, we had nothing to do but 
recommend the isolation of the case and trust to its not spread- 
ing. The trouble of the Isaac Smith proceeded from a col« 
lision by which her starboard bow above the deck was stove 
in. We sent her the means of repairing the injury. Just at 
this time fortune smiled upon us by the rejoining of the Bien- 
viUe, which was a most acceptable addition to our force. She 
had carried her tow into Hampton Boads, and hurried off to 
catch up with us before we reached Port Boyal. But the 
worst of our trials was the weather. The wind and sea in- 
creased alarmingly for the small craft ; and the sky put on 
that appearance which an intelligent judge of the weather 
on our coast never mistakes. We knew that we were going 
to have a southeaster, a gale of short duration, seldom last- 



176 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

ing more than six bonrs at its height, and much less violent 
than our hurricanes, but still very violent in its crisis, accom- 
panied by a sea dangerous to small vessels, and with a heavy, 
blinding rain that makes things appear worse than they really 
are. Before night the Isaac Smith asked, by signal, for 
help. We sent the Atlantic and Florida to her assistance ; 
and to-day the former informs us that she stayed by her till 
ten o'clock, and left her to the Florida^ who did not leave 
her. We have not yet seen either of them, and don't know 
how the poor Isaac Smith got through the night. But I 
have gone in advance of my tale to dispose of this special 
case. About two o'clock in the day, all the smaller vessels of 
t^e fleet began to ** lie by," as the phrase is, which means 
taking the most advantageous position for meeting the gale 
without regard to the course, — the Tixetij Bache's vessel, 
among them. Seeing they were distressed by the weather, 
we made a general signal to heave to, hoping thereby to keep 
company. But as the wind and sea rose, the stemmost vessels, 
and those on the weather quarter, dropped out of sight. By 
dark our number was sadly reduced, and about ten o'clock, 
when the storm raged the loudest, we entertained the most 
anxious fears for the safety of one or two of the weakest and 
least stanch of our little companions, and to these fears was 
added the dread of collision. On board this great ship, such 
an accident was little alarming on our account. But if we 
had fallen on board one of the transports she must inevitably 
have gone to the bottom. 

The violence of the wind, the height of the sea, the storm 
of rain, and the pitchy darkness made it impossible to avoid 
collision, or to render assistance after it had occurred. Thank 
God, we escaped this horror ; we have yet to hear whether 
all were equally fortunate. 

Our own situation during the night had been made uncom- 
fortable by our shipping a heavy sea in Du Font's stem port, 
which he had carelessly left open, and by a little forcing of 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 177 

the water through the tinoalked ports. In truth we had not 
thought so much of a gale as a battle, and were not prepared 
for the former. Most of the passengers passed an uncomfort- 
able night, through anxiety of mind as well as the violent 
motion of the ship ; and eyen the most experienced went to 
bed late and slept watching. 

Saturday morning (Nov. 2d) opened with the usual appear- 
ance of a storm at sea, — an angry sky, rain, wind, and a 
general appearance of discomfort on board and of desolation 
on the dreary waste of waters; wet decks, darkness below, 
and great motion. But the most impressiye feature of the 
scene was the solitude. We had sailed from our port with a 
fleet of fifty ships ; the ocean was alive with our numbers ; 
and now we were scattered in a storm, and of our companions 
only eight could be discerned with dif&culty and rarely, as 
the rain and heavy mist abated and cleared away at short and 
infrequent intervals. 

We passed a grave and thoughtful day. In the course of 
it, the Mayflcnoer^ a small river steamer never designed to 
encounter the perils of the open ocean, hoisted her ensign 
union down ; it was evident from her conduct that she was 
abandoned to despair. She was drifting like a log towards 
the Gulf Stream, where she must have foundered, in her help- 
less condition, unless picked up. We ran down to her ; but 
this ship is too clumsy and slow, and too little under control 
with her steam, to play round a little frail thing like the May^ 
flower in a heavy sea. At this juncture the Atlantic^ Captain 
Eldridge, came to the rescue. She is one of the gigantic sea- 
steamers of the Collins Line. Eldridge handled her like a 
boat, with wonderful boldness and address; he managed to 
get a hawser on board and took her in tow. 

Du Pont thanked Eldridge by signal to-day for this act, 
and for his general activity in the fleet, a compliment he has 
well deserved. In the afternoon the Coatzacoalcos came 
within hail and told us that she leaked badly, and must run 



178 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

in shore under the lee of the land and out of the heayy sea. 
We sent the Auffustaj one of onr few remaming comrades 
and men-of-war, to stay by and take oare of her. We had 
the satisfaction to learn from the Atlantic^ the Bienville^ 
the CoatzacocUcoSf and the Augusta during Friday and Satui^ 
day that no vessel had been injured, or stranded on Hatteras 
Shoals ; that a tug and a ferry-boat had anchored in Hatteras 
Cove, and that the other tug and ferry-boat had gone back to 
Hampton Boads. So no one of these smallest and weakest 
vessels has, probably, been exposed to the southeast gale. 

About half past two Saturday morning the wind shifted 
suddenly to the westward, from which quarter it blew with 
great strength' all day. Last night it moderated. When we 
made a signal in the course of the night to change the course, 
there was only one single answer. Our old friend Ammen ^ 
stuck to us in all weathers, and only parted company this 
morning, when Du Pont sent him to Charleston to bring along 
Lardner in the Su^quehannct* 

To-day, Sunday, the sky and sea have been growing milder, 
and to-night (it is now 9.40 p. M.) the weather is most beauti- 
f uL There is not a cloud visible. We are standing in for 
Port Boyal, and will anchor soon outside the bar. To-morrow 
we shall begin an examination of the channels. I have some 
terrible stories to tell of the disasters among the lighter 
vessels of the squadron. Some of the men-of-war have not 
joined. But I must stop here, for all is in the bustle and 
hurry of getting ready for action. 

Ftrerty Port Boyal Entranoe. 

Mt deab Du Pokt, — All the vessels of war can come in, 
under the Curlew* s pilotage, as far as we are, except the 
Wahash and Susquehanfui^ and perhaps you had better send 
them. I am in sight of the enemy's works and shipping. 

^ Later Bear Admiral Daniel Ammen ; commanded the Seneca^ gon^ 
boat He had seryed with Dayis on the ooest sorvey. 



THE PORT BOYAL EXPEDITION 179 

All goes well. I am writing on the extremity of a vibrating 
cylindrical-shaped concern. 
You can send in the transports this afternoon. 

Yours affectionately, 

Chas. Davis. 

Flagship Wabmh, Port Boyal Bay, Nov. 5tL We ran 
aground going in towards the batteries. We were obliged to 
anchor and give up the attempt, on account of the hour's 
being so late. We make the attack to-morrow morning after 
an early breakfast. 

Nov. 8th. Let me begin by saying that yesterday, after 
breakfast, we got under way and went in, in a prescribed 
order, the plan of which, after I had made it out with study, 
was communicated to the captains of the squadron, who were 
summoned on board for that purpose. We tripped the anchor 
at ten minutes after eight, and sent on shore to take posses- 
sion of the Hilton Head batteries, to which we had devoted 
our principal attention (at half past two). Having cause to 
think that the enemy had abandoned also his fortifications on 
the Bay Point side, Du Pont detached a squadron of four 
vessels to take a position in the river above Bay Point, to 
take possession if the enemy should have fled, and to prevent 
the destruction of public properly. Du Pout's official report^ 
will give a most accurate account of the afiEair, and as I am 
consulted in the composition of it I need not repeat here the 
details it contains, as I am compelled to write in great haste. 
The excitement and gratification resulting from this victory 
are greater to-day than yesterday evening, when we were 
fairly worn out with the day's work. All the captains, or 
most of them, came on board last evening and drank a glass 
of wine on the event, and they, with some of the army people, 
stayed till we were glad to have them go. After they had 

^ For the o£Boial report and aooompftnying doomnentsy see the Report 
qf the Secretary of the Navy for the Year ISdl, Appendix. 



180 CHABL£S HENBT DAVIS 

gone. Da Pont, Baymond, and John Bodgers and myBoIf Bat 
down in the after cabin and disoussed the incidents of the 
day, a most interesting discnssion, as yon may imagine. 

The first shot was fired at aboat twenly-six minutes after 
nine, and the American flag was hoisted on the sacred soil of 
South Carolina about half past two. The engagement was 
not continuous, in consequence of the plan on which it was 
conducted, which I shall explain by and by. While it did 
last, and while we were in front of the Hilton Head batteries, 
the chief object of attack, the firing was very rapid on both 
sides. 

You must endeavor to picture to yourself the whole scene, 
and a most important and interesting feature of it was the 
presence of some fourteen thousand of our countrymen on 
board the twenty transports and troop ships anchored four or 
five miles below, who were safe and undisturbed spectators 
of the battle. Their feelings must have been most wrought 
upon by the events of the day, on which their own fortunes 
hung, as well as ours. We were told that the sight of the 
American flag over the batteries was greeted by tears, rather 
than cheers, so deep were the emotions of the spectators. 

I must go back a little into the story of events. Beginning 
on Tuesday, the 6th, we considered our bringing this ship 
into the roadstead, over the bar, as a bold thing. No ship of 
the size had attempted it before, and we employed only a day 
in verifying the channel and placing the buoys, the old ones 
having been removed by the rebels. The Wabash led the 
way. The bar is two miles long ; we knew that we had only 
three feet to spare in several places. The success of our 
enterprise depended on our getting the ship in ; and, though 
there was no hesitation about making the attempt, it cost us 
some anxiety. 

We anchored in safety in the upper roadstead, about four 
miles below the batteries, at about ten o'clock, and proceeded 
at once to clear the ship for action. But to make the prepa- 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 181 

rations complete and get rid of our guests occupied us until 
a late hour. One of the most necessary of these preparations 
was to place a buoy on the end of the shoal which we had to 
turn going into the upper harbor. The buoy was put down 
a little too low, and got ashore very luckily for us, for the 
day was nearly spent, and a night attack, I am now satisfied, 
would have been attended with confusion. The squadron 
had not been long enough together to move in sufficient har- 
mony for a night attack, — a dangerous thing, except where 
there is very perfect discipline and cooperation. 

So we dropped back to our old berths and determined to 
wait till morning. Du Pont took this, as he has every other 
disappointment, with the greatest coolness and patience. His 
equanimity is remarkable. 

The 6th was a fair, bright day, without a doud, and wholly 
propitious, in every respect but one, to our undertaking. It 
blew a gale of wind, and, to make it as bad as possible, the 
wind and tide were in the same direction. In a professional 
view, there was no doubt, there could be no doubt, that the 
day was very unfavorable to us, and that to engage on such a 
day was to give the rebels a great advantage. Still, all on 
board felt the moral pressure upon us, — the force of public 
expectation, — the imputation that delay might possibly pro- 
ceed from an excess of prudence, and the impatience of our 
oounttymen who were to be released from their prisons, in 
which they had already been cooped up three weeks. We 
knew they were murmuring. 

' But after all, as I said while in consultation, would we 
engage under these unfavorable circumstances, if it were not 
for this moral pressure ; would we think of it; and are we 
justified in acting against our professional judgment, unani- 
mous, too, in obedience to other people's opinions about mat- 
ters they don't understand 7 Wise counsels prevailed, and we 
postponed the attack till the next day. 

In the evening (jcneral Sherman and his brigadiers came 



182 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

on board, the former in a state of mind bordering on despair. 
The ship Ocean JExpresSj containing all his heavy ordnanoe 
and almost all his field ammunition, had not arriyed, and he 
had giyen her up for lost ; and he was in great donbt what 
to do, eyen if the forts were silenced and his landing was 
secured. He had no gpreat guns. But Du Pont comforted 
him with the promise of the upper battery of this ship if 
the Ocean JShcpress did not appear. 

You must make it a point to get a ^^ Herald." One of its 
reporters^ has been posted by us very fully, and probably 
you will hear a great deal more from him than I ever said 
or knew. 

I shall make it a point to send you a plan of the battle, the 
order and positions of which, and the mode of entering action, 
are mine; and I am rather pleased with them. You need 
attach no importance to newspaper sketches. 

Do not think that I am forgetful of my duty and gratitude 
to God for his great mercy to us. I read immediately after 
the action the collect of thanksgiving after victory, as I did 
the prayer before battle on the eve of the engagement. 

Port Royal, Nov. 10th. The BienmUe^ which takes home 
the news of our success and the mails, has just left I wish 
I could be with you when the news arrives I What a relief 
from painful anxieties, from harassing fears I All the more 
so that you have no doubt heard, as we have seen in the 
Southern papers, that we have suffered a repulse, — a good lie 
for a moment's self-deception, and for an excuse for a little 
bar-room indulgence. 

What they called a repulse was either the interchange of a 
few shots at long range between the gunboats and the rebel 
steamers on Monday evening, when the gunboats and lighter 
transports entered, and before this ship was in the harbor; 
or it was the reconnoissance of Tuesday morning, the object 

^ Adam Badeaa represented the Herald as speoial oonespondent with 
the expedition. 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 183 

ci which was to draw the fire of all the batteries, to ascertain 
their positions, and, as near as possible, their force. It seems 
to me that we of the North, as a general thing, differ from 
the people of the Sonth in this respect, particularly, that we 
deal more fairly with onr own souIb. We do not try to per- 
suade ourselves that a defeat is a yiotory, or to call a recon- 
noissance a repulse. But the mention of this reconnoissance 
brings me to the connecting link of the narration I broke off 
at the end of my last letter. It was made in force, as the 
expression is; that is, with a sufficient display of force to 
invite an attack, and induce the enemy to show his strength 
and positions. He would suppose an attack was designed 
when it was not. 

Our part of the affair was well conducted, but the enemy 
fired at once, just as we wished him to do, instead of holding 
his fire and tempting the ships too near the batteries. The in- 
formation we obtained that morning, and other circumstances 
I shall mention, decided our plan of attack. I have already 
told you that we made every preparation for an attack on 
Tuesday afternoon, got under way, and were prevented from 
going in by getting ashore. I have spoken, too, of the gale 
of Wednesday, and the consequent postponement of the affair. 
(I am very much afraid that in writing in this desultory way 
I shall repeat myself.) 

It now seems to me providential that we were prevented 
from going in when we first intended, for the moment I woke 
up Thursday morning, before I had fairly got my eyes open, 
it occurred to me that while the direct approach to Fort 
Walker (Hilton Head) had the advantage of avoiding the 
fire of Beauregard (Bay Point), leaving us to reserve all our 
force and all our fire for the former, — an advantage I had 
perhaps thought too much of, — yet that I had overlooked an- 
other advantage, which, on reflection, I felt convinced ought 
not to be thrown away ; and that was the advantage arising 
from making an approach to Fort Walker from the north, 



184 CHARLES HENRT DAVIS 

on which side we oonld enfilade the water-f aoes of the bat- 
tery, and encounter the fort at the beginning, on its weakest 
flank. To be sure, we had to pass Fort Beauregard, and 
begin the day with an unneoessary engagement that would 
contribute nothing to the main object of the day's work ; and 
if I had known the existence and position of that Tenomous 
rifled eighty-pounder on the salient of Fort Beauregard, to 
the fire of which we were exposed as we advanced, and, still 
more, if I had known the rapidity and aoouraqy with which it 
was to be serred, I should have indulged in a little more 
reflection perhaps. Every shot from that pestilental devil, 
which was, I imagine, directed by a navy officer (resigned), 
either struck us or went within forty feet of the bridge on 
which Du Pont, the Bodgerses (John and Raymond), the first 
lieutenant (Corbin), and myself were standing. It was evi- 
dently aimed, according to the Southern custom, at the offi* 
cers, and aimed, I have no doubt, by some one of our old 
brother officers turned rebel. 

I went to Du Font's stateroom without waiting to dress, 
and communicated my change in the plan of attack, to which 
he consented immediately. He left the whole of these ar- 
rangements to me. 

The delay had enabled ps to complete some details of 
preparation before omitted. We took a leisurely breakfast 
at seven (Du Font, happily, takes all things leisurely), and 
got under way at eight And here I stop to assist Du Font 
in writing the official detailed report of the battle, which you 
must consider a part of this letter to you, though you will see 
it first in the newspapers probably. 

I have passed the greater part of the day and evening in 
drawing up the report and directing the preparation of a plan. 
I am surprised to see how much more strongly the idea of a 
plan is impressed upon my mind than on the minds of others. 
It really seemed to me as if the notion of a carefully matured 
plan of action had not been distinctly entertained by any one 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 186 

but myself. A very imperfect view, prepared by one of iihe 
lieutenants, who confessed to me afterwards that he did not 
know that there was any fixed plan of attack, excited great 
admiration. I was quite disgusted to find that the thought 
and study bestowed on the battle beforehand had been so 
little appreciated. 

I will try to send you the rough draught of that part of 
the report in which the order of battle and plan of attack are 
treated. In the mean time I will mention some little circum- 
stances now in my thoughts. On the way down, it was a mat- 
ter of discussion and consideration with us whether it was 
most advisable for this ship to stand oS, at long shot, as was 
necessarily done at Hatteras on account of the shoal ground, 
and make use of the two largest guns only, and try, as at 
Hatteras, the effect of a bombardment of two days' duration, 
or whether we should come fairly up to the question, and en- 
gage Ihe battery at the shortest range, that of the five-second 
fuses. Du Pont, the two Bodgerses, and myself agreed entirely 
that the best mode of fighting in a heavy-armed ship like this, 
throwing shells almost exclusively, with a really formidable 
battery, was to come simply to the point, and to depend upon 
the destructive agency, and the terror inspired by it, of a 
shower of iron hail, or iron AeZZ, dropped in the briefest time 
and on one spot.^ The very bursting of the shell constitutes 
one of its chief horrors, and we knew we could rely upon the 
quick firing and good aim of a well-trained crew of marine 
artillerists, and upon a set of officers of veiy remarkable 
merit, take them altogether. We determined, therefore, to 
put this big ship dose to the battery ; and I may say to you 
again that it was a most happy thought in me to bring her 

^ y dnxne of fire with shell-^Diis, a factor of saoh momentoiu impor- 
tanoe in modem anmunentB, had hardly at that time been formulated as a 
distinct advantage. The tendency of the times was to diminish the yoI- 
nme of fire by increasing the calibre of gwoB and reducing their number, 
depending rather on the effects of single shots. 



186 CHARLES H£NBT DAVIS 

north-about, so that we might approach the fort on Hilton 
Head, Fort Walker, with the least possible exposure, and 
arrive in front of its square open line of fire fresh and ready 
for the business of the day. 

Fortunately, in passing Beauregard, we had not lost a 
man, though we had been repeatedly hit 

November 12th. We are all going to Beaufort this morn- 
ing. The terror inspired by the victoiy has spread all over 
the neighborhood. Beaufort is deserted by the white popu- 
lation, and the negroes are, or were, committing the wildest 
havoc The commodore has sent up and put a stop to the 
destruction, and taken temporary possession of the town. We 
are going up this morning to look at things, and General 
Sherman goes with us. The Coatzacoalcos goes North to-day, 
and I shall put this in iihe letter-bag before I leave the ship. 
The transports will now be constantly returning, and frequent 
opportunities will occur of writing. 

A word regarding the principal officers of the ex- 
pedition may close this somewhat protracted chapter. 
Du Pont and Davis were intimate friends. The friend- 
ship began on board the Ontario in 1829^ and never 
fl^gS^* Although their service in the navy had not 
brought them together on board ship^ their meetings 
were frequent on shore^ and their correspondence was 
uninterrupted. They were very near each other in 
age. Du Font's seniority in rank was the result of 
having entered the navy at a very early age, while 
Davis had entered rather late. Davis's duties were 
those of captain of the fleet and chief-of-staff, and they 
were not only multifarious, but brought him into the 
closest and most confidential relations with the com- 
mander-in-chief. This, together with the strong inti- 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 187 

macy already existing, produced a relation between the 
two which is rare in the navy, or indeed in any military 
organization ; but there existed in the old service a 
feeling of comradeship and brotherhood among the 
officers very much stronger than anything of the sort 
now prevailing. It was a true esprit de corps. The 
lines of official etiquette existed in full force, but were 
not so tightly drawn as at present ; for officers were not 
bound down by a narrow and inflexible system of regu- 
lations, — a system which has been pernicious in its 
results, for while it has capriciously abrogated custom, 
which should be a ** universally required law of a prac- 
tical and active service," it has pinned all down to one 
standard of mind, and has set officers to watching one 
another to detect trivial errors in contravention of regu- 
lations too innumerable to be borne in mind, and so 
minute as to be querulous and vexatious. The most 
cordial, intimate, and spontaneous intercourse could exist 
between the two senior officers of the Port Royal 
Expedition, working together to attain a great end, and 
free from mutual jealousy and mistrust, while at the 
same time the ixue spirit of official coa^y and eti- 
quette was strictly observed. 

The two Rodgerses, Raymond and John, were cou- 
sins, and both rose to high distinction in the navy. 
They were younger than Du Pont and Davis, but 
shared in the cordial intimacy which existed in the 
cabin of the Wabash. Raymond commanded the ship, 
and John served as a volunteer aide to the commander- 
in-chief. It was a peculiar and striking combination 
which united these four men in one ship, and a very 



188 CHAELES HENBT DAVIS 

unusual one from a naval point of view. The gentle- 
man already alluded to as serving mth the expedition 
as special correspondent has left an impression of the 
cabin mess of the Wdbdah which it may not be out of 
place to quote : — 

Among the naval people attached to this joint expedition 
were also many destined to achieve distinction and high xank. 
Da Pont, who commanded ; Charles H. Davis, the fleet cap- 
tain ; C. R. P. Bodgers, in command of the flagship, — all 
had their quarters on [sic] the great wooden frigate, the 
Wahashy and, in my double capacity of correspondent and 
volunteer aide-de-camp, I saw them often, and with a certain 
degree of freedom. Three finer specimens of naval gentle- 
men I have never had the fortune to meet. The dignity 
and courtecfy of their bearing, the honorable tone of their 
conversation, the brilliancy of their attainments, the quality 
of their talent, and of course the gallantry of their conduct, 
were all distinguished* I was in their company under peculiar 
circumstances, — when they were going into battle for the 
capture of Hilton Head, when they were preparing or discuss- 
ing other movements in advance, and when they made known 
to me what they were willing should be communicated to the 
press, — and I was always impressed in an unusual degree 
with the elevated tone of their minds and behavior. Their 
comments on the enemy were never disparaging or degrad- 
ing ; they were as firm as any men in their devotion to the 
service and the cause ; some of them had broken with near 
relatives and given up lifelong friendships for the sake of 
the Union, but they had not, for that, less than a due appre- 
ciation either of the ability or the motives of the Southerners. 
They suffered for their country. South as well as North, but 
were determined to do their part to reunite it. And, though 
they were as enthusiastic in their profession as any men I have 
seen, they were not the braggarts that some soldiers and 



THE PORT ROYAL EXPEDITION 189 

sailors on both sides have mifortimately been. They were 
cautions, in their reports, to claim nothing that they had not 
achieved, and to take nothing from the credit that belonged 
to their comrades in the army and navy. When I wrote my 
letters for the Northern press I went to them for information, 
and thns had especial opportunity to observe this peculiarity 
of high-bred naval officers. It left a permanent recollection 
with me ; and the picture of these three sailors, as they walked 
the deck of the Wab<ish before a battle, or discussed a move- 
ment in the captain's cabin, or cautioned me afterwards not 
to daam for tiiem more than their deserts, is one of die most 
vivid and agreeable that I retain of die war. 



CHAPTER X 

POBT BOTAii — continued 

After the action at Hilton Head the navy took pos^ 
session of Fort Walker^ and on the following morning 
of Fort Beanregard at Bay Point ; and the transports 
and troop ships, which had been waiting in the inner 
roads, entered the harbor, the soldiers on board cheer- 
ing the ships vociferonsly as they passed along the line 
of men-of-war at anchor. There were some shocking 
and some ludicrous scenes, according to the vicissi- 
tudes and contrasts of war, exhibited in the abandoned 
forts ; for the Confederates had retreated precipitately, 
leaving many of their wounded behind them, and all 
of their property, both public and personal. Their 
precipitate retreat had the effect of spreading terror 
throughout the surrounding country, and had it been 
possible to follow up this signal victory by an invasion, 
before the enemy had time to recover from the first 
panic and to gather his forces, g^eat results might have 
followed ; for the battle at Hilton Head was not only an 
overwhelming victory, but it was also a complete sur- 
prise to the South, which had counted on the strength 
of its coast defenses as amply sufGicient to keep the 
Northern squadrons at bay. Port Royal was the first 
instance in which the war was brought home to the 
South, and that, too, in the very hotbed of secession. 



PORT ROYAL 101 

The first care of the commandeMQ-chief was to take 
possession of the conquered territory and turn it over 
to the army, and to stop the plundering by the slaves, 
which was going on with recklessness and excess, and 
seemed to be inspired more by hate than by lust of 
gain. It was the opinion of the Union leaders that 
the population had fled more in terror of their slaves 
than of the invader. This was a section of the richest 
cotton country of the South, and the blacks of the 
plantations, representing the lowest and most debased 
type of negro savage, became turbulent and unruly 
with the knowledge of the defeat of their masters, who 
had taught them to believe that they were invincible. 

There is perhaps no instance in history, none cer- 
teinly in oar o^ times, more striking Aan this, of the 
unreasoning terror inspired by the sudden appearance 
of an enemy in the midst of a community which be- 
lieved itself to be perfectly secure and remote from the 
theatre of war. The town of Beaufort, fourteen miles 
above Hilton Head on the Port Boyal River, and the 
surrounding plantations were entirely deserted by the 
white population, leaving only the blacks, who were 
committing the wildest excesses. The people took 
nothing with them in their flight, and did not even 
lock the doors of their houses. In describing the occu- 
pation of Beaufort, Davis says : '^ When we landed we 
found a scene of desolation and ruin, in some places 
almost too painful to dwell upon. The only people we 
saw were the negroes, standing at the corners or wan- 
dering through the streets, looking on in amazement. 
The absence of population in a compact, fresh, well- 
built town was in itself a most melancholy sight." 



192 CHABLES HEKBT DAVIS 

The occupation of Porfc Royal Bay had the immedi- 
ate effect^ so far as Davis himself was concerned^ of 
gpreatly increasing the duties of the fleet captain. In the 
organization of the blockade^ and the depot at Port 
Royal, and the multifarious cares and duties of the 
headquarters of the squadron, the details were his part 
of the work. Every captain and every subordinate in 
authority comes to the chief-of-staff with his wants; 
and as their wants are numerous, and as each one's 
wants are to him the most pressing and important 
affair of the day, the chief-of-staff of a large squadron 
is besieged from morning to night with letters, applica- 
tions, and requisitions, all of which must be met and 
attended to. Du Pont began at once with the reorgan- 
ization of the blockade and the exploration and recon- 
noissance of the surrounding inland waters, pushing 
his light gunboats into every river and inlet, and feeling 
the enemy's position wherever there were forts or bat- 
teries, and cooperating with the army, as far as it was 
possible to do so, in its operations for advance and 
occupation. These movements were discussed in coun- 
cil, but Davis took no active part in them except in 
two or three instances. In the midst of these duties, 
however, his mind dwelt on the possibilities of the situ- 
ation, and the great advantages that might be gained 
by vigorously following up the present success. His 
views and plans are given here, not because they have 
any great historical value, for history deals with events 
which happen rather than with such as might have hap- 
pened, but because the whole subject was afterwards 
made a matter of discussion. The navy did its whole 



PORT ROYAL 198 

shaxe in this occupation, and it is not within the scope 
of this story to discuss the movements of the army; 
but it is a perfectly legitimate undertaking to show 
that the person of whom these pages principally treat 
had a clear enough conception of the situation to know 
what might and could be done. 

Port Eoyal, December 2, 1861. You can have formed 
some idea, from what I have already told you, of the effect 
of the capture of this place upon the surrounding country. 
And yet, as we have advanced and as time has elapsed, the 
effect has become more apparent and striking. 

One of the first thoughts, and indeed the very pet idea of 
Mr. Fox, has been to stop up some of the Southern harbors, 
and we were to commence with Savannah. I had always a 
special disgust for this business ; and we had had it before 
the commission in Washington. At one time Bache and I 
made a favorable report upon the sinking of vessels on the 
outer bar of Savannah Biver, or Ty^bee Entrance, as it is called, 
but we subsequently withdrew the report. The maggot, how- 
ever, had got into Fox's brain. I think the chief charm of 
the thing to him was the opportunity to purchase vessels, for 
which he has a penchant that amounts almost to a mania. 
Soon after we were established here, John Bodgers, who has 
special charge of this service, was sent down to reconnoitre. 
The result of his examination, which was conducted with 
great caution and extended through two or three days, was 
to ascertain that T^bee Island had been abandoned. You 
must look on the map or chart, when you will perceive that 
T^bee Island bounds the mouth of Savannah Biver on one 
side, and the channel runs close to it, and is commanded by 
it. This constitutes an advance post for Savannah, as Morris 
Island does for Charleston ; and the voluntary abandonment 
of it through the terror inspired by the bombardment here 



194 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

is a most unezpeoted point of our Tictory. We Iiave now 
oorked up Sayannah like a bottle, and in a little while Gen- 
eral Sherman will send troops there, and we shall hold the 
Island* 

In the same manner, the fortifications at St Helena Sound 
(the next to ns on the north, as Savannah is on the south^ 
have been deserted and the gnns destroyed. Our Tessela 
have been np the Coosaw and Ashepoo rivers some distance. 
Otter Island will be occupied immediately, and this seema 
an advance of twenty-five miles towards Charleston. 

This Somid of St. Helena is as large a sheet of water as 
the one we are in, though interrupted by shoal ground, and 
not, like this, possessed by a free and open navigation. But 
you will see by the map that very large rivers enter into it, 
and that the whole region ia intersected by water communi- 
cations. The country is as fruitful and abounding and val- 
uable as it is in this vicinity. These unlooked-for possessions 
really occasion an embamu de richesses ; they suspend or 
divert our fixed plans of operations, and present new fields 
of enterprise. . • . 

It seems to me incredible that the enemy • • . should have 
yielded up such an important position as l^bee Island with- 
out a blow. With this post in our possession, the fall of 
Fort Pulaski is only a question of time. When Pulaski falls. 
Savannah is at our mercy, but just now all my thoughts turn 
towards Charleston. If you look even on an ordinary map 
of South Carolina, you can trace in fine lines a water com- 
munication from St. Helena Sound to the Ashley River, and 
you will observe that South Edisto, North Edisto, and Stono 
rivers and inlets afford tiie means of lateral support and 
supply to an army moving towards Charleston, by vessels of 
the navy cooperating from the sea, which is wholly in our 
possession. The ground, intersected by watercourses (nat- 
ural) in several directions, is low, sandy, or marshy, and 
wooded more or less, but thickly so only in a few spots. 



J 



PORT ROYAL 196 

? The army, by foUowiBg these wateroonrses more or less 

< strictly, would have the support of armed boats and vessels 

of light draught (armed with our fatal shell and shrapnel, 
against which men in masses can neyer be made to stand a 
second time), and would also possess the easy means of trans* 
porting the provisions and munitions of war. I have not a 
military education, nor a military turn of mind, but it re- 
quires no special military knowledge or genius to perceive, 
1st. That Charleston is the proper object of a campaign, 
because it is the commercial capital of the State and the 
principal seat of its wealth; because it is a stronghold; 
because it is a strategic point for other operations to be 
conducted from as a centre or base ; because it is a seaport 
(for this see history, passim). 2d. That the support and co- 
operation by sea would afford the same help, and secure the 
same facility and rapidity of movement here, as they did to 
WeUington in Portugal, and to our friend, with seventeen 
consonants and no vowel in his name, who crossed the Balkan 
in 1828. 8d. That this is through a thinly peopled and not 
very accessible district except from the sea. 4th. Since the 
distance is short and the season healthy, now is the time to 
do it. 5th. That no preparation is made for us here, for our 
wise friends in Charleston only shut one door of their house, 
against which they have invited us to break our heads instead 
of entering the other. They might find the comedy of Cal- 
deron, ^^ Casa con dos puertas mala es de guardar,*' converted 
into a tragedy. 

The force at General Sherman's command was^ 
probably, insufBicieDt to carry out such a plan; but 
with immediate reenforcements from home, and by 
seizing the opportunity afforded in the terror inspired 
by ihe success at Hilton Head, and with the support of 
the gunboats and armed boats of the fleet, Charleston 



196 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

could probably have been taken. At all events, by an 
immediate and veil-planned advance on the part of the 
army and navy simultaneously, "without allowing the 
enemy time to draw breath, Savannah could have been 
seized by a coup de main* But Greneral Sherman was 
not the man to seize such an opportunity. He wasted 
precious time in cautious and uncertain advances, in 
strengthening unimportant points, and occupying places 
of no strategic value, such as Beaufort, and principally 
in complaints. And after his retirement from the com- 
mand he wasted still more time in explanations. His 
force was composed entirely of volunteer regiments, in 
which he had no confidence, and he was continually 
finding fault with his condition. However, as his 
operations amounted to nothing serious, and have no 
direct connection with the subject, the discussion of 
possible plans and lost opportunities need not be pur- 
sued. 

Surrounded, as he felt himself to be, by opportuni- 
ties of something great and decisive, Davis was set to 
do a piece of work totally repugnant to his instincts 
as an officer, and at direct variance with the great 
plans which he knew were at least plausible, — the 
sinking of the stone fleet on Charleston bar, to block 
up the entrance of the harbor, which, had it been pos- 
sible to realize his own conception, should rather have 
been left wide open. The stone fleet, as it was popu- 
larly called, was a fleet of old worn-out ships, mostly 
purchased from the New Bedford whale fleet, loaded 
deeply with stone, which were to be towed into position 
on the bar, and there scuttled and sunk, in order to 



PORT BOYAL 197 

prevent the ingress of blockade-runners. As the bar 
was beyond the range of the enemy's batteries^ the 
operation inyolved trifling risk, and the whole concep- 
tion of employing such a means for such an object 
represented the strategy of the Navy Department, for 
which Davis has generally received the credit. The 
last time he had been at Charleston was when, as a 
member of the harbor commission, he had planned the 
improvement of the harbor and the deepening of the 
channel. 

Fort Boyal, December 6th. Baymond Bodgers retomed 
this morning from an examination of Warsaw Sound, by 
which it is discoYored that the fortifications on the island 
(Tybee) are abandoned and nearly destroyed, the guns having 
been remoyed first .Thus, from the first shake of the tree at 
this place, have fallen St. Helena, Tybee, and Warsaw, all 
the richest fruit. This Warsaw, which you will see on the 
map, is a second entrance to Savannah, and almost as good 
as the river mouth. 

We have been very lucky in the terror and dismay we have 
inspired, and if we had the necessary means at our disposal 
we should probably be in possession of the entire coast of 
Georgia, from Savannah Biver to St. Maiy's, before the 
beginning of the next year. I mean that toe, the navy^ should. 
But the recent advance of Bodgers shows that, if the general 
commanding were a man of vigor and genius, we would be 
in the city of Savannah in a fortnight. It is a great oppor^ 
tuniiy, but I fear it will be lost. . . . He is constantly, in our 
presence, finding ta,vit with the volunteers, disparaging his 
means. This is not the tone of a strong man. His soldiers, 
such as they are, constitute the material with which he is to 
work. If they are not good soldiers, let him make them 
better. Oeneral Scott fought the battle of Lundy's Lane 



198 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

with TolimteerB.^ • • . What I said to you before I still think, 
— that the most intelligent and capable of the negroes will be 
employed as factors or agents between us and the conmion 
slaves. One of the bright, well-informed people is the steward 
of the Pulaski Hotel at Savannah. According to his story, 
everybody was running from Savannah, and his master 
among the rest was preparing to move and take his servants 
into the country. He did not wish to go there, and, like 
good Grobbo, did not scorn running with his heels. He is now 
General Yiele's major-domo. He told the general that, the 
morning after the action. Commodore Tatnall came down to 
a late breakfast at the Pulaski Hotel, where there were stiU 
some ladies lingering. He began to give an account of the 
fight, and to describe the handling of the fleet, of which he 
spoke in terms of great admiration ; but, before he got far, 
the emotions excited by the narrative overcame him, and he 
burst into tears and left the room. ... If the officers of the 
army and navy had not resigned, there would have been no 
rebellion, — or none of importance. They were, or made 
themselves, the ready and convenient tools of the politicians, 
and that gave the rebellion force and spirit I may finish 
this page with mentioning that several of the Southern papers 
have spoken of our fight as ^ grandly planned and executed.'* 
The " Charleston Mercury," — 

''That TOTj enemy, and the tongae of loas, 
Cried f am& and honor on him." 

I hope I have not quoted that before. I have had it in my 
mind, and may have dropped it. 

December 11th. We gave a very pleasant dinner the other 
day to the generals, all but Sherman, who was sick. We 

^ It IB justice to General Sherman to note that, though not a great 
general, he senred through the war with credit as a division commander, 
lost a leg at Port Hudson, was promoted in the regular serrioe for gal- 
lantly, and retired as a major-generaL 



PORT KOTAL 199 

endeavor to preserve the most harmonious relations with the 
officers of the army, regulars and volunteers, and have thus 
far succeeded. But I am surprised to see how many disturb- 
ing influences are in operation to endanger the harmony 
between the two services. It requires a great deal of good 
sense, which is another word for Christian charity, to avoid 
petty contentions between subordinates. We have our swag- 
gerers here, as in Mrs. Quichly's time, and like our hostess, 
cannot abide them. They try to make trouble. Then, I am 
sorry to say, more attention is paid than I think should be 
to the statements of newspaper correspondents, some of whom, 
as I know, with the best intentions, and with the most sincere 
desire to tell the truth and shame the Devil, are perpetually 
giving offense by drawing the lines of distinction too broad, 
or not drawing them broad enough, by splitting hairs too fine, 
or not splitting them at all. My philosophy is very much 
puzzled on this question of the writers aud artists. I have 
not yet, as Professor Henry says, made out my theory of the 
case. Some of them are clever and well educated, — some 
vulgar, — and although they have become an integral part of 
sodety, and one of its constituent elements, they are not yet 
sufficienUy advanoed in character, manners, and lesponsi- 
bility to be entitled to full recognition. 

I go to Charleston to-morrow to sink the stone fleet on 
Charleston bar and dose the channeL 

December 17th. I did not think I should have time to 
write again before returning from Charleston, where, as I 
told you in the last page of my letter by the Atlaniicj I am 
bound to put down the vesseb laden with stone, or the 
stone fleet as it is called. This is a disagreeable duty, and 
one of the last I should have selected. I always considered 
this mode of interrupting commerce as liable to great objec- 
tions, and as of doubtful success. But I have facilities for 
doing it greater than I could have expected. Besides the 
steamers of war, there will be three transport steamers to 



200 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

assist in bringing and placing them (the ships). My fleet 
will consist of sixteen or seventeen old vessels laden with 
stone ; the men-of-war off Charleston now, added to which 
there wiU be the Mohican^ Pocahontas^ and Ottatoa that 
aocompany me, and the Pawnee and Seneca that follow me ; 
and lastly and finally there will be the three transports, viddir 
cetj the Philadelphia^ the .Ericsson, and the Cahawba, in 
the last of which I shall go. She is a handy steamer with 
a clever captun and light draught, and I can nse her in 
placing the vessels. I do not go near any batteries on the 
land, I believe, or if there are any on that part of Morris 
Island which is to be approached, my position will be ont of 
range of their guns. There are armed tugs and steamers at 
Charleston, but the force I carry with me will keep them at a 
respectful distance. 

I have settled in my own mind the proper course of action 
in sinking the vessels, and the principles on which it rests — 
have laid down my plan of proceeding and communicated it 
to my subordinates. And that, you know, is half the battle 
with me. To know what I am to do, and how I am to do it, 
must be settled in my mind by a process of reflection and 
reasoning, before I can give myself fully and wholly up to 
action. I am so constituted, as you are aware, that the 
thinking must be done first, and done (whether well or ill, 
at least) to my own satisfaction before the acting begins. 

Davis performed this service and retomed to Port 
Royal on December 20th^ just in time to escape a severe 
northeast storm^ which would have seriously interfered 
with his operations on Charleston bar^ and the next 
movement in which he took an active part was a recon- 
noissance in force in Warsaw Sounds in which he com- 
manded. 

Fort Boyal, January 20, 1862. We have got up another 



PORT ROYAL 201 

expedition to Warsaw, and are only waiting for a change of 
weather to carry it out. It is a joint affair, and I command 
the naval part, and, as far as this part or arm is concerned, I 
approve of it — in fact, suggested it. It is a reconnoissance 
in force that may lead to important results. But as a joint 
operation I heartily disapprove of it. Twenty-four hundred 
men are embarked in transports (in which they have been all 
this wet, cold weather — quite as well off perhaps as in their 
cold tents), and when I went to see General Wright who is 
to conmiand them, I found that he had no plan of operations 
whatever. The next day he came on board to see me, and 
passed several hours with me, and I found that the best iof or- 
mation he had of the ground rendered it doubtful whether 
he could even land his men. In this case it will be the old 
story of the king of Fitoce, with a change of numbers merely. 
I should like to see a modification of the plan now, but can- 
not bring it about. You may be comforted with the assur- 
ance that I know what I mean to attempt myself ; but it sur- 
prises and annoys me that General Sherman should send 
General Wright on this service without any preconceived 
project. Wright is one of the cleverest fellows in the world ; 
he is an old acquaintance ; we were together on the commis- 
sion on St. John's River, in the year '51, was it ? 

Without a map or diagram^ it would be impossible to 
follow the course of this expedition^ whose prime object 
was a reconnoissance^ and if possible^ to cut off comma- 
nication between the city of Savannah and its outer- 
most defense^ Fort Pulaski^ situated on an island almost 
at the mouth of the Savannah River. To the south- 
ward and eastward of this f ort^ and forming the south- 
ernmost boundary of the river's mouthy lies Tybee 
Island^ which as has already been seen^ had been aban- 
doned by the enemy^ and its defenses destroyed. Tybee 



202 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

Island was already occupied by a part of General Sher- 
man's force ; and another part held Turtle and Jones 
islands on the northern shore of the Savannah River. 
The watercourses surrounding these islands had been 
explored and sounded to a certain extent, and there 
were negroes at the service of the fleet who were skill- 
ful local pilots and knew the depths in most of these 
channels. 

As finally arranged the plan was that John Bodgers 
with two gunboats should advance toward the Savan- 
nah Biver through the channels forming the northern 
boundaries of Turtle and Jones islands^ while Davis^ 
with the main body of six gunboats and the transports 
containing the troops, should enter from Warsaw Sound 
and pass through Freeborn Gut to the Savannah Biver. 
This would bring the two together at the same point in 
the river, several miles above Fort Pulaski. 

Davis sailed from Port Boyal on the 26th and an- 
chored the same night at the entrance of Warsaw Sound. 
The next morning two companies of infantry were 
taken on board the gunboats, which advanced up Free- 
bom Gut, leaving the transports with the main body of 
the troops in Warsaw Sound. The course of the gun- 
boats carried them within range of Fort Pulaski, visible 
across the intervening marshes, but there were no guns 
mounted on that side, and although great efEorts were 
made in the fort to get one into position, it was not 
done until after the gunboats had passed out of range. 
The latter continued to advance in the Cut, proceeding 
in close order, and keeping a lookout for masked bal?- 
teries or sharpshooters, until they were stopped by 



POBT BOYAL 208 

obstructions in the form of a double row of pfles across 
the channel. Here they were forced to anchor^ and 
the companies of infantry were landed to scout, and 
boats were sent into the neighboring creeks leading 
toward Savannah River, while Commander Ammen of 
the Seneca went o£E with a boat to cut the telegraph 
wire between Savannah and Fort Pulaski. 

In the afternoon John Bodgers made his appearance 
in Wright River, on the other side of the Savannah, 
and an attempt was made to communicate with him by 
signal. At about sundown the enemy's squadron under 
Commodore Tatnall came down the Savannah River, 
and anchored at the mouth of the Cut in which Davis's 
squadron was lying, the line of obstructions being, of 
course, between them. The two squadrons lay in this 
position until after dark, and Davis rather expected a 
night attack. He was powerless to move, except in 
retreat, but he knew that Tatnall could be reinforced 
with troops from the batteries about Savannah, and 
that a combined night attack might place him in an 
awkward position. He therefore kept watch under 
arms, and pushed his scouts out toward the enemy's de- 
fenses. But the night passed without incident, and at 
daylight it was discovered that Tatnall had disappeared. 
Exploring parties were now sent out in various direc- 
tions to examine die neighboring countey and wate.. 
courses, and the positions of the enemy's batteries were 
thus ascertained. At about eleven o'clock Tatnall's 
squadron again made ite appearance in the Savannah 
River, five gunboats, with hulks in tow, which they 
left at the mouth of the Cut, and attempted to cross 



204 CHARLES HENEY DAVIS 

Davis's line of fire. In the engagement which fol- 
lowed the enemy's squadron scattered, three of them 
running on toward Pulaski, and the other two, one of 
which was Tatnall's own vessel badly crippled, making 
back toward Savannah. John Bodgers, who had lain 
at the mouth of Wright River all night, took part in 
this action. Davis says : ^' The last of the steamers 
that came up came quite alone. She had a hulk on 
each side of her carrying the guns and constituting the 
batteries of which she was herself the motive power. 
Incumbered in this way she passed very slowly before 
our fire, which she returned in the most gallant manner. 
Her captain was a plucky fellow." 

Having accomplished the main object of the naval 
demonstration, a reconnoissance, and being unable to 
proceed on account of the obstructions, there was no- 
thing for it but to return ; and in order to avoid the fire 
from Pulaski, for which the fort was better prepared 
than when the gunboats entered the creek, the squad- 
ron got under way at four o'clock in the morning and 
passed the fort while it was still dark. After commu- 
nicating with the transports in Warsaw Sound, the 
gunboats returned to Port Royal. 

An incident of this expedition is related as follows: — 

A curious and painful event took place this morning. The 
paymaster of the Isaac Smith (one of the gunboats which 
participated in the expedition to Warsaw Sound) died early 
of consumption. The last few hours of this slow, lingering 
disease were creeping away yesterday during the engage- 
ment. This complaint generally gives its victim ample notice 
to spend his latest breath at home. In his case the solemn 



PORT KOTAL 206 

moments of final preparation were disturbed by the roar and 
jar of hesYj artillery, and the shouts of applause that followed 
every successful shot. 

Comment on this expedition^ as far as the naval part 
of it is concerned^ is unnecessary. It was an unimpor- 
tant event, accompanied by no very exciting incident, 
and followed by no very important result. It was a 
naval reconnoissance and demonstration, nothing more, 
such as took place constantly during the war wherever 
our gunboats were operating in inland waters. But it 
affords a curioua fflurtration of the futiKiy of a com- 
bined movement when authority is divided. There 
were, doubtless, many similar cases during the war ; but 
it is difBcult to understand why twenty-four hundred 
men in transports, under an independent command, 
should have been carried from Port Royal to Warsaw 
Sound, and then brought back again. For the trans- 
ports could not enter Freeborn Cut, and, excepting the 
two compames which Davis took along, and which were 
useful as skirmishers, the whole body might have better 
stayed in Port Royal. The force employed was un- 
necessary for a reconnoissance, and inadequate for a 
serious demonstration ; the opportunity for an advance 
on Savannah had been lost. The enemy had gathered 
his forces and strengthened his defenses, and the whole 
army at General Sherman's disposal could not now 
effect what might have been done with a handful pro- 
perly led, if the naval success at Hilton Head had been 
immediately followed up. 

Davis had been promoted by seniority to the rank of 
captain, then the highest grade in the uavy, on the 



200 CHARLES HENEY DAVIS 

15th of November^ 1861^ only a few days after the 
action at Hilton Head; and on February 10^ 1862^ 
he was detached from his duties as chief-of -staff of the 
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron with orders to 
report in person at the Navy Department in Washing- 
ton. There was much speculation as to the meaning 
of this order, not unmixed with apprehension that he 
might be wanted for his old place in the Bureau of De- 
tail ; but he heard from reliable sources that it was the 
intention of the department to give him a flag, to which 
his rank now entitled him. It must be remembered 
that, previous to the creation of admirals in our navy, 
our squadrons were commanded by captains with the 
honorary title of commodore, until within a few years 
of the breaking out of the war, when a law was adopted 
creating the temporary rank of flag officer, and enti- 
tling captains in command of squadrons to wear a rear 
admiral's flag, and to accept and require the dignities 
and privUegefl of an admiral's rank, in every particular 
except in name.^ This change had been made because 
the commodore's broad pennant placed our commanders 
abroad at a disadvantage in relation to foreign flag offi- 
cers. It was a concession rather to the dignity of the 
country than to the privilege of the individual : but a 
flag was the natural ambition of every captain, especially 
in time of war ; and Davis learned from Porter, who 

^ This law has neTer been repealed, and it has been the invariable cns- 
tom, np to the past year (1898), to confer acting flag rank upon officen of 
inferior grades appointed to the command of squadrons. Commodore 
George Dewey, appointed to command the China station in January, 
1898, was the first officer to whom this honor had oyer been denied since 
its authorization by law. 



PORT ROYAL 207 

touched at Port Royal with the mortar flotilla on his 
way to the Gulf, and who had just come from Washing- 
ton^ that it was the intention of the department that he 
should relieve Commodore McKean^ who had asked to 
be retired from the command of the East Gulf Blockad- 
ing Squadron^ with the 8an Jacinto as flagship. 

Davis remained with the squadron long enough to 
take part in the capture of Fernandina. The respect 
for our ships due to the action at Hilton Head was still 
so great that Fernandina f ell^ without firing a gun^ on 
March 2d, and Davis hastened home in the first trans- 
port which sailed, carrying with him Du Font's dis- 
patches announcing this latest success of the squadron. 
In the midst of the preparations for Fernandina, and in 
anticipation of an immediate return to* the North, Davis 
wrote: — 

February 20th. We are now making our final preparar 
tions, and will be off on Saturday. The weather is remark- 
ably fine, and the interruption has been so long and steady 
that we promise ourselves a good number of pleasant days. 
I do not now regret the delay, for it has led to a change in 
the mode of attack, which strikes us all as very good, and 
very likely in itself to iasure success, if we do not encounter 
unexpected obstacles. We have more information about Fer- 
nandina than we had about Port Boyal, and yet we have not 
so much as we ought to have. The general said to me that 
he thought we were making an unnecessary amount of prepa- 
ration ; this was when I read him the list of vessels we are to 
take. But, so far as it depends upon myself, there shall be 
no needless risk run. I would not expose this cause, which is 
the cause of my country, to useless hazard, any more than I 
would the life of a parent or of a child. If we succeed we 
shall do a great thing. The whole peninsula of Florida will 



208 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

be cut off, seyeral Taloable sources of commttnication widi 
the external world, and with each other, will be taken from 
the rebels, and the whole Athmtic coast of the seceding States 
will (with the exception of a few points either easily taken or 
easily guarded) be in our possession. Our success will be 
another terrible blow upon those who have introduced into a 
national paradise, 

''calm region onoe, 
And foil of peace, now tost and tarbulent,** 

war and all its attendant evils, 

''hi^ pauiou, anger, hate, 
MistmBt, suspicion, discord.'' 

How fortunate and timely, too, our triumphs at Boanoke 
and Fort Henry I That the latter victory, taking place in the 
very heart of the continent, should have been achieved by the 
navy alone is quite a feather in our cap, and will add very 
much to the reputation of the navy, and, I hope, prevent 
Congress from taking any great amount from our pay, — at 
least while we are fighting the battles of the country.^ 

NaVT DXPAXTUSITT, April 1, 18C2. 

My deab Du Pokt, — I have been in a constant whirl 
ever since I got home, and am now leading a sort of dreamy 
existence, being in what the philosophers call a state of un- 
stable equilibrium. What I am to do is as uncertain as it 
can be made by its dependency on events beyond my own or 
Mr. Welles's controL 

But before I come to that, I must tell you of one of two 
little incidents of my arrival in Washington. 

I passed up Chesapeake Bay on the 9th, the eventful Sun- 
day when the fight took place between the Monitor and Mer- 
rimac. As I went by the Eastern Channel, hardly within 
signal distance of the ships in Hampton Beads, I had no idea 

^ A bill to reduce the pay of naval officers, at all times a popular mea- 
sure, was then pendmg in Congreas. 



FOBT BOYAL 200 

of what was going on. But I was so mndh strnck with the 
firing as to inquire the cause of it from a river steamer, the 
captain of which told me that it was target practice, princi- 
pally with the great guns on the Bip-Baps. I did not land 
in Baltimore till after the last morning train (noonday) had 
left. I was obliged, therefore, to wait till the four o'clock 
train. I sent a telegram, however, at once to the Secretary, 
and with it went the good news of the result of the engage- 
ment of Sunday. William, who met me at the cars, told me 
that the report of our successes was very cheering to the de- 
partment, and came at a happy moment. In Baltimore I gave 
the news to the ^ American," and ordered some copies to be 
sent to you. Did you receive them? 

It was dark when I got to Mr. Welles's house, where he 
was impatiently waiting for me. He took me over to the 
department, where Mr. Faxon and the reporters, apprised of 
my coming, were waiting to get the reports. 

I read your report out loud there, and it was very well 
received. Two copies had been made and corrected on the 
passage home, so that I had three copies to give to the news 
agents, who were delighted when they found they were re- 
lieved from the labor of making copies for themselves. 

From the Navy Department Mr. Welles carried me to the 
President's, where there were several of the heads of de- 
partments and one or two visitors. Here I read your dis- 
patch again, and was frequently interrupted in the reading 
by comment and inquiries, which evinced the interest of the 
listeners. • • . 

I stayed at the White House an hour, and Mr. Welles 
walked halfway to my hotel with me. The affairs at Hamp- 
ton Beads, and some irrepressible anxieties about the Gulf, 
had made the Secretary quite desponding. He poured out 
his troubles and apprehensions to me with an open and un- 
burdened heart ; and I was touched with his saying at the 
end of every sentence, or series of remarks, ** Oh, if you 



210 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

and DaPont were only there I ahoold have no fears about 
the result, — DuFont and Foote and yourself enjoy our per- 
fect confidenoe." 

This idea was expressed in different ways — and very fre- 
quently — in the course of the evening. Even at this late 
period I find that the action of Fort Boyal is the hanchomest 
thing of the war. This has been said to me over and over 
again, in Washington, Baltimore, Fhiladelphia, New York, 
and Boston. The manner in which you have carried every- 
thing before you on your station ; the completeness of your 
operations ; the consummation of plans now known to have 
been parts of a grand project deliberately formed before 
leaving the United States ; and, above all, that greatest of 
military virtues, success, — have given you a reputation in the 
country for sagacity, enterprise, and wisdom far beyond any- 
thing you can think of. This reputation has been increased 
by the reports of persons who have seen you in Fort Boyal, 
and among others my nephew, James Feirce, and by Mr. 
Pierce, the government agent, who has spoken of you, in his 
letters, in terms of exalted praise. If I could think of any- 
thing mortifying to say to you, I should certainly say it, in 
order to counteract the effect of these sugar-plums on your 
naval constitution. But I am compelled to add to them by 
congratulating you on the great success of your movements 
since my departure, — on the possession of Jacksonville and 
St. Augustine's. . • . GKve my most affectionate love to my 
dear Bodgers, . . • and give him my most cordial congratu- 
lations on the part he has taken (the conspicuous part) in the 
restoration of Florida to her allegiance. I have told Fox 
that he must make an admiral of Bodgers. I am told that 
you are to have another vote of thanks for Florida, and are 
to head the admirals' list. 

I send you a copy of the new navy bill by Captain Mul- 
lany QBienvUle). I suppose you would like to have me tell 
you something about it and about the department. What an 



PORT ROYAL 211 

nDieasonable oreainre you are! Have I not written you 
twelve pages, and do I not hate to write as I hate original 
sin ? But I have something to tell yon, and will write soon 
again. Bemember me to Dr. Clymer. • • • Eemember me 
to Corbin, to Barnes, to Guliok (his relief will go out in the 
Rhode l8land)y and, most of all, to Mr. Preston,^ for whom 
I have an affectionate regard. 

Bemember me, in short, to jail my old shipmates, and to the 
steward and the boys. 

Ever your faithful and affectionate friend, 

Chab. Davis. 

Navt DEPABTMBirr, April 9, 1862. 

My dear Du Pokt, — I am writing this letter from my 
old place (not exactly my old desk) at the department, in 
the same room in which we used to hold our day and night 
consultations last summer and autumn. Nothing is wanting 
to dispel the impression left by the intervening passage of 
time and the events it has regbtered — to carry me back six 
months — but seeing you walk in with a package of letters 
or papers in your hand, and draw up a chair for conference. 

If I had any desire to be carried back to that time, it is 
principally that I may fully appreciate and enjoy the great 
comforts and hopes and promises and blessings of the present, 
in promoting and hewing which you have had so great and 
honorable a part to act. My mind is penetrated with the 
deepest sense of gratitude to Grod for his protection and favor 
to our beloved country, and I venture to hope that you and I 
may witness the blessed return of peace and union. 

10th. I had written ihus far yesterday when I was called 
off by John Bodgers, who has not lost any of his restless 
activity and want of repose since leaving Port Boyal. He is 
anxious now to get an iron steamer ; and he calls my atten- 

^ liettteiiaat Samuel W. PkeBton, killed in the assault od Fort Fisher, 
Janiiazj 15, 1865. At Port Boyal he was flag lieutenaiit to Da Pont. 



212 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

tion to the difference between the praises and Honors awarded 
to Worden and the neglect shown to Morris, although the 
latter's coniage and patriotism were put to the severest test. 
He fought his guns while his ship was sinking, and cheered 
as she was going down. Such are the charms of novelty and 
success. 

Commodore Smith paid a touching tribute to the memory 
of his son by saying, when it was reported that the Congress 
had surrendered, ^^ Then Joe is dead." 

We are expecting to hear every moment of the Merrimac^s 
coming out. Fox and Mr. Grrimes are botii down in Hampton 
Beads waiting for the event. Our last successes at Island 
No. 10 and Corinth fill our hearts with gladness. God grant 
us a similar success in Ebimpton Boads. 

TatnaU is in Norfolk. He has sent Commodore Smith his 
son's sword ; it was received to-day. 

I am nominally on duty at the Navy Department ; I say 
nominally, because, while ordered to remain here, I have 
nothing special to do. There is no doubt that I was ordered 
home to relieve McKean, but the intentions of the depart- 
ment have changed. . • • 

Then there is the bill creating new grades in the line, of 
which I sent you a copy. This bill provides for a board of 
examinationj which I regard as an advisory council to the 
department. The determination is to make free use of this 
opportunity to put the navy in the highest possible state of 
efficiency as respects the higher grades principally. The fun- 
damental maxim, that the navy is made for the country and 
not for the officers, is to be strictiy applied, without acrimony 
and with a just regard to tiie rights and character of really 
meritorious officers who have not had an opportunity to dis- 
tinguish themselves. While exchanging some views witii 
Fox, and afterwards with Faxon, on this subject, I was led 
to think that I might be ordered to serve on this board. I 
hope not. 



FORT ROYAL 218 

Mr. Sedgwick told me that as soon as the tax bill was 
disposed of, these two navy bills wonld be brought up in tiie 
House* He and several members of Congress have spoken 
to me very encouragingly of the passage of tiiese bills. Ex* 
perience and disappointment will lead you and I to entertain 
moderate hopes only* And some time must elapse before 
they can be carried through all the stages of legislation. I 
should like to know, confidentially, whetiier you would serve 
on this board* You will certainly be thought of* The char^ 
aoter, judgment, and decisions of the board of '56 have, as 
Commodore Stribling remarked to me the other day, been 
remarkably sustained and approved by the events of the last 
year ; and I think the navy would rejoice to see you on a 
board (at the head of it) designed to assist the department 
in making selections for the new grades. I am afraid you 
will fed a repugnance for this duty, which must, in some 
particulars, be anxious and disagreeable. I am sure I sym« 
pathize with you. 

There is still another object for detaining me here in the 
mind of the department: it is the indefinite idea that I 
may be wanted. Fox has already asked me to undertake, in 
connection witii Bache, an investigation similar to those of 
last summer, — mats ctssez de moi^foHme. . . • 

Remember me most cordially to my dear Bodgers, and to 
all my friends, especially to McEinley, whomi forgot to men- 
tion in my last letter* Tell Bodgers his nomination has gone 
in. But we were thought to have been nominated and con- 
finned long ago, and Mr. Welles, Mr. Fox, Mr. Faxon, and 
Mr. Grimes would hardly believe it when I told them it was 
not so. 

Ever, my dear Du Font, your most fidthful and affection- 
ate friend, 

Chables Davis. 

There is noUiing n^ore fickle ihan ihe £avor of ihe 



214 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

great. Charleston could have been taken, but not by 
simply knocking at the front door, as reason had 
already demonstrated and as the event proved. For 
frankly declaring this fact, Du Pont lost favor, was 
treated with indignity, and relieved of his command, 
and passed the last two years of his life in retirement 
and neglect. Too harsh a judgment must not be pro- 
nounced on this act of injustice. In times of great 
public stress, novelty and success are the keys to 
favor; reason occupies a secondary place. One of 
the ulterior results of the battle of Fort Boyal, and the 
passage of the forts at New Orleans, was that the 
public had learned to believe that the ships of the navy 
could go anywhere and accomplish anything. Fopular 
clamor demanded Charleston, and, failing that, a vic- 
tim ; and the administration was justified, to a certain 
extent, in yielding to popular clamor. At this particu- 
lar epoch of the civil war, the rights and fortunes of an 
individual naval officer were of little consequence ; but 
it was a matter of momentous importance that the 
administration should retain the confidence of the peo- 
ple. It is generally the aim of every political party to 
sustain itseU in power, but there have been, perhaps, 
only two periods in our history when it has been of 
vital, literally vital importance, that the dominant party 
should retain the control of public affairs, and this was 
one ; for, had the Democratic party been successful in 
the elections of 1864, there would now be two republics 
on the continent of North America where there is but 
one. 

For Du Font himself, viewed from a distance of more 



PORT ROYAL 215 

than thirty years, the lustre of his fame is in no way 
dimmed by the dignity witih which he bore unmerited 
mortification ; and he is remembered, not as tihe scape- 
goat of the administration in 1863, but as the distin- 
guished and gallant officer who reorganized the navy in 
1855, and led his squadron to victoiy in 1861. 



CHAPTER XI 



FOBT FUJiOW AND MEBCPHI8 



There were two enterprises which the Federal goyem- 
ment proposed to itself at the very commencement of 
the war, which were followed with unflagging tenacity 
of purpose to a conclusion, and which together insured 
the final collapse of the Confederacy, regardless of the 
movements of armies in Virginia and along the Potomac 
— the blockade, and the conquest of the Mississippi. 
The first of these was entirely the work of the navy, 
and the preceding chapters have shown what Davis's 
share in it was. In the second the navy took a con- 
spicuous and important part. In May, 1861, Com- 
mander John Bodgers had been detailed by the Navy 
Department to organize and equip a flotilla of gunboats 
for service on the Western rivers, to be used in coopera- 
tion with the land forces. These vessels were paid for 
by the quartermastei^general of the army, and in fact 
the Mississippi flotilla remained under the control of the 
War Department until the autumn of 1862. Its status 
was a somewhat anomalous one, as it was officered and 
manned entirely from the navy, and its correspondence, 
like that of other squadrons, was with the Navy Depart- 
ment, and at the same time it remained a part of the 
army organization. Commander Bodgers purchased 



FORT PILLOW AND MKMPHTS 217 

and equipped three wooden gunboats at St. Louis, but 
before he could take his small squadron into active ser- 
vice he was relieved in September by Captain A. H. 
Foote, to whom belongs tihe credit of the organization 
of the Mississippi flotilla. 

Foote added nine vessels, built expressly for the ser- 
vice, to the three which Bodgers had already secured, 
making up the total of ihe flotilla to twelve. Of the 
later vessels, seven were armored, and a general descrip- 
tion of them is as follows : Length, one hundred and 
seventy-five feet; beam, fifty-one and a half feet; 
draught, six feet ; ihe hulls were of wood, built with 
a central casemate, with sides sloping at an angle of 
about thirty-five degrees, inclosing the wheel at the 
stern of the boat, and plated with two and a half 
inches of iron. This casemate formed a quadrilateral 
gun-deck, on which the battery of from thirteen to six- 
teen guns was mounted. Three of these guns, and 
these ihe heaviest, pointed directly forward. The ves- 
sels were propelled by a single stem wheel, and most of 
them had their machinery and boilers on deck, though 
in the Benton, the heaviest of all, which mounted sixteen 
guns, the machinery was below. The heaviest of ihe 
guns were ten-inch Dahlgrens ; the rest were sixty-four- 
pounders (eight-inch), forty-two-pounders (seven-inch 
converted rifles), and thirty-two-pounders. The smooth* 
bore g^s fired solid or cored roundshot, shell, grape, 
or canister, as the occasion required. The speed of 
these vessels was just about sufficient to stem the cur^ 
rent of the Mississippi, and they were extremely awk- 
ward in manoeuvre, on account of their g^reat beam and 



218 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

the single stem wheel. The wheel and machinery were 
a weak point, being inadequately protected, and conse- 
quently very liable to damage by the enemy's shot. 

When Captain Foote was appointed to the command 
of the flotilla he was raised to the rank of flag officer, 
and hoisted his flag on board the Benton. The first 
important action in which the flotilla engaged was Fort 
Henry, and its success here immediately gained a pres- 
tige for the squadron which it never afterwards lost. 
In the struggle for the Mississippi, or at least in that 
part of it which took place in the north, and in the 
advance of the army and flotilla in Tennessee, the first 
strong line of Confederate defense was from Columbus 
on the Mississippi River to the Cumberland Mountains, 
including the strongholds of Fort Henry on the Tennee- 
see River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. These 
two posts were not far distant from each other by land, 
and it was apparent to the Federal commanders, (xen- 
erals Grant and Smith, and Commodore Foote, that by 
seizing and occupying these posts at the middle of the 
line, they would render the extremities, at Columbus 
and Bowling Green, untenable to the enemy and force 
him back to the south. Accordingly Fort Henry was 
attacked by the flotilla on the 6th of February, 1862, 
and surrendered, after a desperate resistance. Fort 
Donelson was attacked by the flotilla on the 14th and 
carried by assault by the army on the 16th. The Con- 
federates now evacuated Columbus, which was strongly 
fortified, — in fact too strongly to have been carried by 
the flotilla alone, or indeed by the combined land and 
naval forces without a protracted siege, — and fell back 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIB 219 

to the southward, upon a line whose points were Island 
No. 10, in the Mississippi ; Fort Pillow, eighty miles 
above Memphis, on the Mississippi ; Corinth, and Chat- 
tanooga. Island No. 10 was surrendered to the flotilla 
on April 7th; and in the meantime the army had 
advanced on Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh, where was 
fought the bloody battle of the 5th and 6th. But the 
Confederate forces rested at Corinth, which was not 
finally evacuated until the 29th of May. After the 
surrender of Island No. 10, Flag Officer Foote dropped 
down the river, where he lay above Fort Pillow, a posi- 
tion which was very strongly fortified, and which now 
represented the extreme left of the enemy's line. Here 
he remiained for a month, and such was the position of 
the land and naval forces when Davis relieved Foote in 
front of Fort Pillow on the 9th of May. 

While the operations which have been briefly de- 
scribed were in progress, the Confederates themselves 
had not been idle in naval matters, and had put afloat 
a squadron of gunboats intended to contest with the 
Union flotilla the supremacy of the river. Davis's old- 
time shipmate George N. HoUins, who held the rank 
of commodore in the Confederate service, and the com- 
mand of the naval forces of the Confederacy on the 
Mississippi, was at New Orleans preparing for the 
threatened attack by the squadron of Flag Officer 
Farragut, when he was summoned to Memphis to* 
superintend the preparation of the northern flotilla. 
He obeyed the order with reluctance ; but by his 
efforts, when Davis assumed command of the Union 
fleet, there were eight Confederate gunboats ready for 



220 CHABLES HENEY DAVIS 

action. These vessels were conyerted steamers and had 
the advantage of the Federal ships in speed, though not 
in armament, and some of tiiem were fitted and used as 
rams. The Federal flotilla had been strengthened by 
the addition of several mortar-boats, scows with no 
motive power, and carrying each one mortar ; and the 
absence of several vessels on detached service left the 
total number of gunboats at eight. 

Farragut's squadron had passed the forts below New 
Orleans on the 24th of April, seventeen days after the 
surrender of Island No. 10; and it now became the 
immediate naval policy of the campaign to draw the 
two squadrons together towards Vicksburg, while at 
the same time the tributary streams were to be cleared. 
The first step in this direction from the north was the 
destruction of the Confederate naval power on the 
river. As long as the Confederate forces held Corinth, 
their gunboats were safe under the guns or below the 
fortifications of Fort Pillow, and Memphis was their 
base. Here they had a navy yard and workshops, and 
here their squadron had been equipped ; and the Union 
commander remained in ignorance of its strength. 
There were rumors of the formidable character of 
some of these vessels, but the Confederates were in a 
position to offer or decline battle as they saw fit, and 
up to the 9th of May they had shown themselves only 
occasionally round the bend of the fortifications, and 
on these occasions had always avoided an encounter 
with the Federal fleet. From its position above Fort 
Pillow, the flotilla of Foote was in almost daily commu- 
nication with its base at Cairo, and its mail-boats, tugs, 



FOBT PILLOW AND MEMPHT8 221 

and supply-boats were constantiiy passing to and fro^ 
bringing supplies for the squadron, while the mortar- 
boats, moored to the opposite bank of the river, were 
steadily bombarding Fort Pillow. The course of the 
Mississippi is here very tortuous ; but it is convenient 
to use the words up and down, above and below, in 
relation to the current of the river, and not to the 
points of the compass. 

When Davis had been ordered to Washing^n in 
March, from the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 
it had been with the intention on the part of the de- 
partment that he should relieve Commodore McKean in 
command of the East Gulf Squadron. The intentions 
of the department had changed, and Davis had felt no 
particular regret, because the operations of this squad- 
ron had no promise of importance. He was retained at 
the department, however, as he himself expressed it, 
with the indefinite idea that he might be wanted ; and 
early in May he had been sent to New York to make 
another examination of the Stevens Battery.^ While 

« 

^ This veBsel had a emioiui hutory. She was laid down in 1842, in 
aoooidanoe with an act of drngien authorizing the oonstrnetion of an 
iionchid floating batteij for harbor defense. She had been hardly begun 
when Commodore Stockton demonstrated, by experiments on targets re* 
presenting the thickness of her armor, that she oonld be penetrated by 
shot She was, therefore, rejected by the goTomment. Her designer 
undertook to finish the Tessel, and she was examined by a board of naval 
officers in 1861, and again rejected. At the death of her owner in 1865, 
she passed into the possession of the State of New Jersey, $1,000,000 
being bequeathed to complete her. The money was expended under the 
diraotion of General George B, McCleUan, and entirely new machinery 
built for the ship. She was stiU uncompleted in 1874, and the money 
all expended. After several unsuccessful efforts on lie part of the State 
to dispose of her, she was finally broken up and sold for old material. 



222 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

on this duty he received a telegram from the Secretary 
of ihe Navy directing him to report to Flag Officer 
Foote for temporary duty with the Mississippi flotilla. 

Foote had received a wound at Fort Donelson, which 
was slight at first, and which he made light of and 
neglected. It had, however, proved to be more serious 
than anticipated, and had become troublesome, and, 
under the strain of work, anxiety, and responsibility, 
his general health had failed. He had asked that 
Davis might be sent out to assist him, with no idea 
that he himself would be obliged to relinquish his 
duties ; but before Davis arrived he had grown worse, 
and it was evident that he must give up the command, 
temporarily at least. There will be more to say on 
this subject later, but for the present it is sufficient 
that immediately upon the receipt of the Secretary's 
telegram, and without returning to Washing^n, Davis 
started for the West, reached Cairo on the 8th of May, 
and, taking the mail-boat down the river, he relieved 
Foote in command of the Mississippi flotilla on the 9th. 

Flag Steamer Benton, 
Oft Fort Pillow, May 9, 1862. 

... I came down last night, as I said I should in my note 
of yesterday, and breakfasted with Foote on board tiiis vessel 
this morning. He was in bed when I came on board, and he 
was so overpowered at tiie sight of me that he was unable 
for some moments to speak. The scene was very touching ; 
the pleasure of meeting was not without a badge of bitterness. 
We both shed tears. I fiod Foote very reduced in strength, 
fallen off in flesh, and depressed in spirits. EBs foot is pain- 
fuland requires rest ; his digestive organs are deranged by the 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 228 

disease of thedimate; and his mind is exhausted by incessant 
labor, strain, and responsibility. 

Still, though he looks sick, though he is thin and worn, and 
his face is marked with the lines of suffering and tiie expres- 
sion of disease, yet I do not think that his health is seriously 
impaired. I have no doubt that he will be perfectly restored, 
and in a short time, by rest and the cheerful influences of his 
home and family. He goes to his brotiier's in Cleveland, 
Ohio, and leaves me in temporary charge during his absence. 
He hopes and expects to return and resume his command, and 
this vessel will continue to carry his flag. 

He does everything to make me comfortable, leaving all his 
table and bed-linen, and his crockery, glass, silver, etc. He 
will want them if he comes back, and if he does not return 
I am to continue to use them. 

It excites a very deep sentiment to look back to our early 
association as boys in the frigate United States^ where we 
became intimate, and studied together for our examination. 
The examination of midshipmen was instituted a year or two 
after I entered the service, and Foote and I saw at once the 
necessity for commencing preparations to meet this formida- 
ble trial. We often say that we wrote the first book of sea- 
manship (MS.) that ever was written in the service. Many 
the hour and day in which we sat side by side at our task. 
The commonplace reflection arises in my mind of how little 
we could then, or at any time indeed of our lives, have antici- 
pated meeting under such circumstances as the present . . . 
I shall soon write again. Everything is a blur as yet. When 
the mist of newness passes off I may have something to tell 
you. . • • Foote leaves me a mosquito net and a straw hat. 
We had for breakfast this morning venison, ortolans, and 
squirrel ; we have for dinner wild turkey, and our table is 
constantly supplied with game. 

May 10th. We had a smart affair this morning before 
breakfast. The rebel gunboats came up in gallant style, 



224 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

prepared for a regular engagement. The action lasted an 
hour, at the expiration of which the enemy, defeated and 
disabled, retreated in haste or dropped out of action. George 
HoUins commanded tiie rebel fleet, I am told ; he was recog- 
nized, it is said.^ Two of my gunboats were badly injured* 
I fear poor Captain Stembel is mortally wounded. 

I send this hasty word to assure you of my comfortable 
•condition. You, of course, under no persuasion, publish any* 
thing I write you of a public nature. 

^ And Bitiut^ this s and then to breakfast with 
What appetite you haW 

The breakfast was well seasoned. 

May 11th. The enemy came up yesterday in very gal- 
lant siyle ; the vessels were commanded by spirited fellows, 
who had evidently made up their minds to take it at the 
closest quarters and in the roughest way. We had scouts 
out yesterday, and we find that they are hard at work re- 
pairing damages, though only six of their gunboats were in 
sight. These gunboats of the rebels were built, I believe, by 
individual subscriptions ; and Colonel Fitch, the military com- 
mander here, had in his hands day before yesterday two 
numbers of a Memphis paper in which the severest com- 
ments were made upon the inefficiency of their commanders. 
Colonel Fitch said, when he told me of it, that he thought 
they would be stimulated to some effort of a desperate nature. 

It is evident that the public opinion, such as it may be, 
demands some effort, some display of earnestness and deter- 
mination, on the part of these people, who have collected a 
force without, at first, any apparent purpose of using it. I 
have no doubt we shall have another fight soon if our gun- 
boats do not come up the river, or if Corinth and Memphis 
do not f alL 

^ It does not appear that HoUins was in the fight. The Confederate 
report of the action is signed hy J. E. Montgomery, senior captain com- 
manding. 



FOBT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 225 

My official report goes home by this mail*^ 

It is curious, my getting out here, and getting Foote off 
just in the nick of time. The old fellow had only been out 
of the ship about fifteen* hours when the fight took place. If 
the Cincinruxti and Mound City were not so completely 
crippled Colonel Fitch and I would be already engaged in 
the execution of a plan for reducing Fort Pillow, of which he 
is the author, and which I found on the tapis when I came 
out. As it is, we must wait for several days* • • • 

I will tell you, in confidence, that the Cincinnati and 
Mound City were so much injured by the enemy's rams that 
it was necessary to let them run up on the bank and settle. 
The latter is free again, but not repaired. The OincinnaU 
has the water in her yet. 

It is not evident that the Confederate commander 
knew that Foote had just been relieved, though it is 
probable that he may have received this information; 
and it looks as if he had taken this opportunity to 
attack while the new commander was still fresh and 
tmaccnstomed to his suxronndings. Altiiough it ^ 
Davis's habit of mind to prepare for action by a regu- 
lar process of reflection, in this case, if in no other of 
his life, he was forced to act on the spur of the mo- 
ment. At the commencement of the battle of Fort 
Pillow, the advantage was decidedly with the enemy. 
He had chosen his own time to attack, while the com- 
mander of the Union fleet was entirely new to the 
work, and without experience in river war&ie ; and his 
ships had the g^reat advantages of superiority of speed 
and of the support of Fort Pillow. If it had not been 

^ For Davis's official zeports while in command of the Mississippi flo- 
tilla, see the lUpori of (he Secretary of the iVory for 1862, Appendix. 



226 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

for these advantages, the disabled Confederate vessels 
would have been either captured or destroyed in this 
action, as they were a month later at Memphis; but 
Davis's sphere was limited by the guns of the very 
powerful batteries of Fort Pillow, and his ships were 
too slow to chase. All he could do was to beat the 
enemy back to shelter. 

On the morning of May 10th, Davis's flotilla was 
lying in two divisions, with steam up, the first division 
of four ironclad gunboats moored to the Tennessee 
shore, and the second division, of unarmored vessels, 
moored to the Arkansas shore. The enemy appeared 
at the bend of the river at a few minutes past seven 
o'clock, prepared for battle. In obedience to a signal 
from the Benton^ the Union vessels immediately cast 
off their lines. All were lying with their bows down- 
stream. The leading vessels of the enemy's squadron 
made directly for mortai^boat No. 16, which was, for 
the moment, unprotected. The master of this vessel, 
Acting Master Gregory, behaved with great spirit, and 
used his mortar with a depressed elevation and reduced 
charge. Captain Stembel, in the CUndnnatiy which 
was the leading vessel on that side of the river, and 
Captain Kilty, in the Mound Oity, coming to the 
support of the mortar-boat, were rammed repeatedly ; 
but at the closest quarters, and with the muzzles of 
her guns almost touching the enemy's sides, the Cin- 
cinnati poured a broadside into the ship which had 
rammed her, which drifted downstream totally dis- 
abled. In this encounter, however. Captain Stembel ^ 

^ Ciqitain Stembel leeoTeied from his wound, end still liTeSy a retired 
mr admiraL 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPfflS 227 

was severely wounded by sharp-shooters on the enemy's 
decks. By this time the action had become general ; 
the Cfmcinnati was rammed again, but a shot from the 
bow-gun of the Benton exploded the boiler of the ves- 
sel which had rammed her. The loss of life on board 
this ship was frightful. Both the leading vessels of 
the enemy's line were disabled by the fire of the Ben^ 
tony and, like the vessel which had first rammed the 
Cincinnati^ drifted downstream disabled. The third 
of the enemy's vessels of the western line was also 
blown up in her boilers and drifted out of action. The 
fight lasted the better part of an hour, the remaining 
ships of the enemy retreating in haste below the g^uns 
of Fort Pillow. The Cincinnati and Mound City 
were run on the bank and settled, but were immedi- 
ately afterwards freed and repaired.^ The casualties 
on the Union side were slight, but the loss on the 
part of the Confederates must have been enormous. 
Captain Phelps, of the Bentony estimates that every man 
on board the ship which was blown up by the first shot 
from the Benton* 8 rifled bow-gun was either killed or 
disabled ; and the Union commander learned from de- 
serters a few days after the battle that one hundred 
and eight were buried on shore at one time. 

This action, like the one succeeding it at Memphis, 
was the roughest kind of hand-to-hand fighting; for 
the narrowness of the river between the banks left little 
room for manoeuvring, and after the fleets were once 
engaged, where both sides were willing, it was neces^ 

^ See the official report The heat detailed aecoimt of Uub aotion it in 
the letter of Captain S. L. Fhelpe, oommanding the Benton^ to Comnio» 
doie Foote. Vide Hoppm'f L^e of Footet p. 817. 



228 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

sarily a promiscuous fight. The want of protection 
over the boilers and machinery, in these river vessels, 
eiq^osed them to damages in which casualties became a 
general calamity. 

This was the first purely naval engagement of the 
war in which squadron was pitted against squadron, and 
it was contested with great spirit on both sides. 

Davis's first care after the battie of Fort t^ow was 
to free the Cincinnati and Mound City of water and 
repair them. It was necessary to send the Cincinnati 
to the depot at Cairo, but her place was taken by the 
Louisville, a sister ship, which joined the flag two days 
after the fight. On the 16th Davis wrote : — 

I am happy to say that the gunboat Cincinnati left yes* 
terday for Cairo. She has been a great trouble to me. Her 
injuries proved to be so much greater than at first supposed, 
that I had at one time very serious apprehensions that she 
would not be raised in time to get her off the bank, the river 
IB falling so fast 

The only trouble was not the loss of the boat. Her help- 
less condition confined me to a spot somewhat nearer to the 
enemy's batteries than I care to lie at all times, especially if 
deprived of the power of motion. I am now free to move 
again. 

I see here the Chicago and otiier Western papers chiefly. 
There i& great rejoicing in this section of the country over 
our victory of the 10th inst. The dread of the rebel rams 
and gunboats alonf tiie rivers was similar to that once enter- 
tained on the seaooast concerning the Merrimac* It was 
feared, and foretold by the alarmists, that they would pass 
this squadron, and lay the Northern cities under contribu- 
tion. Their speed would enable them to do so, but they 
would not dare to attempt the passage of Island No. 10. 



FORT PILLOW AND MRMPHTS 220 

The feeling in the East will be indifferent, I snppose, paiv 
tioularly now the public mind is absorbed by the brilliant 
achievement of the army. 

General Qninby came to see me early this morning, to 
concoct plans for the capture of Fort Pillow. 

The following note from Foote was received on the 
18th: — 

Clbvelamd, llfay 15, 1862. 

My dsab Davis, — I congratolate yon, and hope that a 
vote of thanks and passage of the naval bill will make you 
an admiral for yonr ready coming to my relief when too ill to 
do my duty, and making such a glorious fight. 

I was interested to find those fellows so plucky, and must 
confess to some little envy in not being able to have taken a 
hand in your dashing affair. 

I reached here with less &tigue than I anticipated, but was 
bored by the good people everywhere to speak and show my- 
self. I fed it to be unmerited on my part, this wonderful 
attention, and it is particularly unpleasant associated with my 
leaving to you liability for another fight at any moment. 

I am in a great hurry to return and relieve you ; my heart 
is with the flotilla, but I was in a condition wholly unfit to 
command when I left, and did right in leaving, as the inter- 
ests of the fiotilla required it. ... I fed rather better, and 
hope in two weeks to leave for Cairo to join you as soon as 
possible. 

Excuse my incoherent note. 

Yours ever aff ectionatdy, 

A. H. Foots. 

Fort Pillow was situated at a point where the river 
makes a decided bend under the bluffs, and the water 
batteries extended along the shore, in the curve, for a 



280 CHABL£S H£NRY DAVIS 

mile and a half. They mounted about forty heavy 
guns, one of which was a ten-inch, the rest being rifled 
sixty-four and thiriy-two pounders. On the bluffs above 
the water batteries the Confederates had constructed a 
line of intrenchments, so as to occupy the ridges of a 
series of hills, and in these about thirty field-pieces 
were posted at the most advantageous positions in the 
salients. The camps of a large garrison were situated 
in the rear of the batteries, and capacious magazines 
had been dug in the sides of the hills, which were re- 
ported to contain a krge supply of ammunition. The 
post was commanded by General Yillepique, a native 
of New Orleans, who was said to be, next to Beau- 
regard, the best engineer in the Confederate service. 
The Confederates placed great reliance on his military 
skill, and on the strength of these works, which were, 
in fact, sufficiently powerful to hold the Union flotilla 
in check. 

General Quinby, who commanded on the right of 
the Federal line, was in daily expectation of reinforce- 
ments, and the plan of attack was an assault on the 
part of the army, supported by a bombardment from 
the mortar-boats and a direct attack by the fleet ; but 
the extent of the works made this plan very uncertain, 
unless a large number of troops could be employed. 
The enemy's gunboats remained quiescent below the 
fort ; in fact, they had been very seriously damaged in 
the fight of the 10th. As Captain Phelps wrote to 
Commodore Foote, ^ ^' The loss of the rebels must have 
been very heavy. Their vessels were literally torn to 

* Hoppin'f Lift of Fooie^ p. 318. 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 281 

pieces, and some had holes in iheir sides through which 
a man could walk. Those that blew up, — it makes me 
shudder to think of them." Davis knew, howeyer, that 
they were repairing damages as rapidly as possible, and 
he expected another attack from them. His mortar- 
boats kept up an incessant fire on the fort, to which 
the enemy's guns occasionally responded; and about 
this time his squadron was reinforced by the addition 
of several rams, under the command of Colonel Ellet. 
It was one of the peculiarities of his position that Ellet 
could attach himself to the squadron without coming 
under his command. He appears to have been a free 
lance ; a civilian adventurer, who was not even under 
military authority, and who acted exactly according to 
his own fancy, receiving orders from no one. His 
vessels were ordinary river-steamers mounting no guns, 
and acting as rams only. They were strengthened by 
longitudinal beams of wood; the boilers and machinery 
were protected by logs and cotton-bales ; and they were 
superior in speed to the gunboats. Of course Ellet 
could only move when the squadron moved, as his 
vessels were powerless unless supported by the gun- 
boats ; but he was in a position to take a free hand in 
anything that was going on, and, as will be seen later, 
he handled his vessels with great boldness in the battle 
at Memphis, although only two of them were engaged, 
and he himself was mortally wounded, and was men- 
tioned in dispatches by Davis. His wound was not 
considered serious at first, and he probably would have 
recovered had he regarded the surgeon's advice; but 
he reaUy died from incessant writing to Ae newspapers. 



282 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

Notoriety seems to have been a mania with him. He 
left the rams to the command of his brother, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Ellet. Ellet and his rams will be men- 
tioned in the narrative whenever their services occur ; 
but as the elder Ellet had succeeded in gaining what 
was probably the height of his ambition, — an extended 
notoriety, -^and as his actions were coincident with 
and dependent upon the movements of Davis's flotilla, 
his whole history, as far as it relates to the operations 
on the Mississippi, must be considered in its just and 
proper value. 

The following passages are selected from Davis's let- 
ters while lying off Fort Pillow : — 

May 21st. General Qninby came down last evening with 
reinforcements, and last night we had a council of war. Ac- 
cording to the best information, they [the rebels] have very 
few people now at Fort Pillow. The story is that they have 
gone down to Bandolph [a fortified post on the river, between 
Fort Pillow and Memphis]. Their gmiboats are not in their 
usual anchorage. Our plot is a good plot. We require a 
little luck to carry it through successfully. 

There are at Cairo and St. Louis, on the stocks and tm- 
finished, vessels that would make us perfect masters of the 
river and everything in it. But they will not be finished till 
the ¥rar is over. Is not this truly provoking? 

May 24th. You must know for your further comfort that 
my squadron has been increased by the return of the gun- 
boat Mtmnd City^ and the addition of four vessels that may 
be described in the language of the law as abuUerSy or, in 
Scriptural phrase, as Buzites of the kiadred of Ram. Others 
of the same sort are expected. They are not good for much 
in reality, but they are so formidable in appearance that they 
would strike terror to the soul of Kilhard. 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 233 

I cannot tell what damage I did to the rebel fleet. Two 
of their vessels dropped ont of action, enveloped in steam and 
smoke, in the first fifteen minutes, and one appeared to sink 
as she rounded the point. The information given by the 
refugees (who are numerous) is, that she was kept afloat 
twenty-four hours and then sank, and that we killed one 
hundred and eight of the rebels. This is the least estimate ; 
others give more. 

I am doing nothing just now. General Quinby, after 
reconnoitring the ground, came to the conclusion that he 
had not men enough to undertake the combined movement 
we had agreed upon, and he has gone back to wait for more. 
I will keep you posted up as to my movements. 

May 28th. A party of deserters from the fort came in 
day before yesterday, and another yesterday. They agree in 
the number of troops, etc., and also in portraying the con- 
dition of the rebel soldiers as one of suffering from want of 
good and sufficient food, and of general disgust and discon- 
tent. They say that there would be a great many desertions 
if less watchfulness were observed. The men do not share 
with the officers in their violent animosities. . . . Nothing 
could be more tame and uninteresting than the present state 
of things. Our mortars go off about once in flve minutes ; 
those of the rebels, only occasionally. Creneral Quinby I 
have not heard from since he went back to Hickman. But I 
have no idea he will be able to get reinforcements till after 
the fate of Corinth is decided ; and without them, no attack 
can be judiciously attempted upon Fort Pillow. The service, 
which consists in standing and waiting, is suited to us, but 
not at all to the other side, to whom delay is the moth and 
rust that doth corrupt 

May 29th. I have now an addition of five or six rams to 
the squadron, and the gunboats have received the protection 
of cypress logs and of iron rails in their weakest parts. If 
I could get at them [the enemy's fleet] I should make the 



2U CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

attack mTself, and my own anxiety is now, not to avoid, bat 
to renew the fight clear of the guns of Fort Pillow. I say to 
yon, what is literally true, that what is written by the news- 
paper correspondents is the merest twaddle, — a mixture of 
fact and speculation, of observation and invention, from which 
even I, on the spot, should find it difficult to separate the 
true from the guess. You may be amused with it, but not 
seriously affected* The reporters live on board a steamer a 
mile or two up the river, and glean the substance of their 
communications from hearsay. 

I am sending a steamer up the river to-day to pick up the 
poor refugees, who stand on the banks begging our mail-boats 
to take them on board with their families. 

May 80th. I must fulfill my promise to tell you something 
about this vesseL The captain of the ship, Lieutenant-Com- 
manding S. L. Phelps,^ is my messmate ; he is an uncom- 
monly clever officer, a person of superior education, and a 
very amiable companion. He manages the affairs of the 
mess, and, you will be glad to hear, likes fresh strawberries, 
lettuce, and radishes ; sends for Mackinaw trout ; orders fresh 
gooseberry tarts (resembling in this respect the Queen of 
Hearts) ; keeps always a plentiful supply of ice, sometimes 
with mutton on it ; and, finally, is very fond of tea, which he 
makes with scrupulous care himself. 

My quarters are well enough in themselves, though small, 
and, compared with the Wabash^ mean; but they are not 
well situated. They are amidships of the vessel: on one 
side of ihem are the pantry and cooking-stove ; on the other, 



^ Csptain Fhelps aerred throiighoat the war on the Misdssippi, and 
wms in action and under fire oftener, perhaps, than any officer of the 
navy. Like others who sexred on the river, his serrioes were not ap- 
preciated by the department. He resigned at the dose of the war, was 
at one time a Commissioner of the District of Columbia, and he rendered 
distinguished serrioe as United States Minister to Pern during the war 
between that country and Chili. 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 235 

the marines ; so that I am exposed to all the noises, sightSi 
and smells of the vessel, and am subject to being always over- 
looked if I let down the blinds and open the doors, and to 
being suffocated if I don't. Added to these inconveniences, 
the cabin is dark. But it is well enough for &e present. 

The proper flagship of the squadron is a vessel called the 
Mastport^ now in the hands of the mechanics at Mound City, 
four or six miles [six] above Cairo. She is large, well built, 
and protected, with good power and speed, and I hope her 
accommodations will be satisfactory and well-placed. This 
vessel has no speed, will hardly overcome the current of the 
river, and is a mere tub and beast Happily she is not very 
valuable. 

May 81st Fort Pillow has neither been evacuated nor 
reinforced. We know its status pretty well from day to day 
(the deserters are frequent), and to-day is the first time we 
have had any intimation of a movement looking towards 
evacuation, and to-day we receive intelligence which we think 
reliable of the evacuation of Corinth. Our scouts are always 
on the alert* 

Of one thing be assured, that, if I ever get near that rebel 
fleet again, I shall destroy it, unless they anticipate me them- 
selves. I am highly gratified, greatly, greatly pleased, with 
what you say of the good opinion of my neighbors ; and I am 
very much pleased with your account of your interview with 
James Lawrence. Nothing could be more pleasant than such 
things ; but you know I do not suffer myself to be elated with 
these kind and over-kind opinions,— in themselves so evanes- 
cent and liable to change. A reverse to-morrow would alter 
all this mouth -honor — breath I Equam vnentem servarey 
not only in adversity but in prosperity. I am sure that I 
have a trial of my philosophy now, for my situation is a dis- 
agreeable one.^ 

June 2d. The confirmation of the evacuation of Corinth 

^ Bel en to his anomalous statiu in oommand. 



286 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

encourages the hope that we may be able to move soon. The 
grearXf the river, .i>A» my arrivid. b» laid openanew 
road for the hmd attack; and I hope now that General 
Quinby will be here soon with a sufficient number of men to 
authorize the attack on Fort Pillow. 

You shall have my plans from time to time as they are 
developed. The poor refugees disturb my happiness very 
much. They are as desolate and unhappy as exile and 
poverty can make them. I have sent a steamer up the river 
for their special relief. There are women and children among 
them, and to see the latter unhappy takes away the beauty of 
life. 

A man was killed in the mortar-fleet this miming in a 
curious way. He had a cylinder of loose powder over. his 
shoulder and a lighted cigar in his mouth. His head was 
blown off. These mortar-men are said to be very careless. 

June 8d. We are less in want of the excitement of the 
mail to-day than usuaL There has been a little skirmish 
between two scouting parties, in which a rebel officer was 
killed; and further, there have been some movements during 
the night, and during the two previous days, indicating an 
intention on the part of the rebels to evacuate. It was a 
maxim of Napoleon that a bridge of gold should be made for 
a flying enemy, but if General Quinby were here we would 
try to anticipate their movements. 

June 5th. Colonel Fitch discovered several days ago a 
weak and assailable point by which he proposed to attack the 
enemy's works by land, while I encountered the batteries in 
front. It was agreed between us that this should come off 
yesterday morning ; but a foolish movement of Colonel EUet 
prevented it in a way that could not have been foreseen. 

The movement was then to have been made this morning, 
as soon after daylight as possible. But the rebels retreated 
yesterday and last night, after, as usual, destroying every- 
thing. They evidently think that suicide is victory. These 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 287 

works are very eztensiye and very strong. It most haye cost 
the poor devils some pangs of mortification to abandon them 
withont a straggle. 

I am now lying tmder the batteries of Fort Pillow, waiting 
for Colonel Fitch to return from some examinations he is 
making. As soon as he comes back we will make onr pre- 
parations for going down the river. I do not believe that 
there is any force at Randolph. If not, there is probably no 
interruption between here and Memphis, except, perhaps, the 
enemy's gunboats, and they would detain us but a short time. 
I am too busy to write a long note. 

Davis got under way with the flotilla, from his 
anchorage* under the abandoned batteries of Fort Pil- 
low, at noon on the ^th of June, leaving one gun- 
boat, the Pittsburg, to cooperate with a detachment of 
Colonel Fitch's command in holding possession of Fort 
Pillow and securing public property there, and another, 
the Mound Cfity, to convoy the transports conveying 
the troops when they should be ready to move. On the 
way down, the squadron came suddenly, at a bend of 
the river, upon the Confederate transport steamer 
Sovereign, which was captured and proved a valuable 
prize. The gunboats anchored, at eight o'clock in the 
evening, at the lower end of Island No. 45, about a mile 
and a half above the city of Memphis. The mortar- 
boats, tugs, ordnance, commissary, and other vessels of 
the fleet moored to the bank of Island No. 4A for the 
night. 

At daylight on the morning of the 6th the enemy's 
fleet of rams and gunboats, now numbering eight ves- 
sels, was discovered lying at the levee at the city. 
They cast off their lines, and dropped below Railroad 



288 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

Pointy and then^ returning, ranged themselyes in front 
of the city. At twenty minutes past four the Union 
flotilla^ consisting of the five gunboats, — flagship 
Bentoriy Captain S. L. Phelps ; LouiavUle, Captain B. 
M. Dove ; Carondelet^ Captain Henry Waike ; Cairo, 
Captain N. C. Bryant ; and St. LotdSy Captain Wilson 
McGunnegle, — got under way by signal and dropped 
down the river. The Confederate squadron, placing 
itself between Davis and the city, opened fire, with the 
intention of exposing the city to injury from the Federal 
shot ; but the fire was returned with due care in this 
regard. While the squadrons were approaching each 
other in this manner, two vessels of the ram fleet, the 
Monarch and Queen of the Westy ran rapidly to the 
front and steamed into the enemy's line. Several con- 
flicts had taken place between the rams on both sides 
before the slower-moving squadron of gunboats, led by 
the Benton, could come into close action ; in the mean- 
time, however, the firing was continuous and well 
directed. 

The General Beauregard and Idttle Rehel (Confed- 
erate) were struck by shell in the boilers and blown 
up. The ram Queen of the West, commanded by 
Colonel Ellet in person, struck the Confederate Gen- 
eral Lovell and sunk her, but sustained serious dam- 
age herself. Up to this time the Confederate vessels 
had maintained their position and used their g^ns with 
great spirit, but these disasters induced the remaining 
vessels to seek safety by a precipitate retreat, relying 
upon their superiority of speed; a running fight en- 
sued, carrying both squadrons ten miles downstream, 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 2dd 

and lasting more 'than an hour. It resulted in the 
capture or destruction of four out of the five of the 
remaining vessels of the enemy ; only one^ the Van 
Dom^ escaping. The fate of the eight vessels of the 
Confederates was as follows : The General Lovell, sunk 
in the beginning of the action, went down in deep 
iB^ater, carrying many of her crew with her. Some 
escaped by swimming, and, in the heat of the action, 
the Benton lowered her boats to rescue those in the 
water. The General Beauregard, blown up in her 
boilers and injured otherwise by shot, sank near the 
shore. The Little Rebel, injured by shot, made for the 
Arkansas shore, and was abandoned by her crew. The 
Jeff Thompeony set on fire by shells, was run on shore 
and abandoned. She burnt to the water's edge, and 
blew up in her mag^azine. The General Price, rammed 
and injured by shot, was also run on the Arkansas shore 
and abandoned. The Sumter, somewhat cut up, and 
the General Bragg, shattered in her upper works and 
hull, were captured. The Van JDom escaped.^ 

Davis estimated that the Sumter, General Bragg, 
and lAttle Rebel might be repaired. Not even an 
approximate statement could be made of the loss on 
the part of the enemy, which must have been veiy 
serious. The General Lowell, going down in deep 
water, carried part of her crew with her ; and the Gen- 
eral Beauregard, blown up with steam, had many of 
her crew frightfully scalded. The casualties on the 
Federal side were insignificant. The mortar-boats took 
no part in the action, but their commander. Captain 

\ See the offioial zeport of the aotioii. 



240 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

Maynadier^ accompanied the squadron in a tog, took 
possession of the General Beauregard, and made her 
crew prisoners. 

The result of this action was the annihilation of the 
Confederate naval power on the Mississippi. It never 
appeared again as an organized force, and Davis's flo- 
tilla was now free to navigate the river from Cairo to 
Vicksburg. After the battle the squadron returned to 
Memphis, and the following correspondence took place. 
Davis's first letter is to the point, and is very character- 
istic. The mayor's somewhat testy response is softened 
in the tone of the next letter by a recognition of the 
inevitable, and perhaps by a sense of relief in turning 
over to other hands the government of a turbulent 
city: — 

Ukitbd States Flag Stbamsr Behton, 
Oft Msmphxb, June 6, 1862. 

Sib, — I have the honor to request that you will surrender 

the city of Memphis to the authority of the United States, 

which I have the honor to represent. 

I am, Mr. Mayor, with high respect, 

Your most obedient servant, 

C. H. Davis, 

Flag OfBoer oommanduig, etc 

His Honor the Mayor of the Citj of MemphiB, Tenn. 

Matob'8 OmoB, Mbmfhib, June 6, 1862. 
Snt, — Your note of this day is received, and contents 
noted. In reply I have only to say that the civil authorities 
have no resources of defense, and by the force of circum- 
stances the city is in your power. 

Bespectfully, 

JOHET Pabk, Mayor. 
C. H. Davis, Flag OiBoer oomnuuiding, etc. 



FOBT PILLOW AND MEMPHTS 241 

Uhited Statxs Flag Steahxb Bbntoh, 
Onr MsMPHig, June 6, 1862. 

Snt, — The undersigned, commanding the military and 
naval forces of the United States in front of Memphis, have 
the honor to say to the mayor of the city that Colonel Fitch, 
commanding the Indiana brigade, will take military possession 
of Memphis immediately. 

Colonel Fitch will be happy to receive the cooperation of 
his Honor the Mayor and the city authorities in maintaining 
peace and order ; and to this end he will be pleased to confer 
with his Honor at military headquarters at three o'clock this 
afternoon. 

The undersigned have the honor to be, with high respect, 

your most obedient servants, 

C. H. Davib, 

Flag Officer, commanding afloat. 

G. N. FrrcH, 

Colonel, commanding Indiana brigade. 
Honor the llfayor of the City of Memphis, Teiiii. 



Mayor's OrncB, Msmphis, June 0, 1802. 

Gentlebcen, — Your communication is received, and I 

shall be happy to cooperate with the colonel commanding in 

providing measures for maintaining peace and order in the 

cily. 

Your most obedient servant, 

John Pabx, Mayor. 

Flag OiBoer C. H. Davis sad Colonel G. N. Frros. 

The battle had been witnessed by the entire popula- 
tion of Memphis assembled on the levee, and expecting 
an easy victory for their own fleet. The Confederate 
accounts of the battle state that ihe Geaeral Lovell 
was sunk by shot, and not by the ram Queen of the 
West. The transports arrived at eleven o'clock, and 
Colonel Rteh immediately took miUtary poeBesdon of 



242 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

the city. Davis remained in front of Memphis mth the 
flotilla daring the month of June^ and the narrative 
may be continued by quoting again from his letters : — 

Flagship Bkmton, Memphis, June 6, 1862. 

My early rising yesterday morning, the fatigues of yester- 
day, the limited allowanoe of rest List night, and this morn- 
ing's fight, have left me so weary that I can only congratu- 
late you on my success of this morning, which has nearly 
annihilated the rebel fleet, and removed it forever as a subject 
of anxiety. You will have the most excellent and ample 
description of the fight by Mr. Coffin, of the *^ Boston Jour- 
nal," who was happily in the fleet and a witness of the whole 
affair. 

Thank God fortius great success. If the gunboats had 
fled before me, as their speed easily enabled them to do, they 
would still have been a thorn in our side. Now they can give 
us no further trouble ; and, moreover, the blockading force 
of the river by the rebels is destroyed. You will not depend 
on me for the story, but keep all good accounts for me to see. 

June 7tL Fear and doubt still prevail here, and the 
freedom of society has by no means yet taken the place of 
the arbitrary military control which our occupation Bup- 
pressed. 

June 8th. Yours of the 28th reached me on the 6th, the 
day of the engagement. • • . You express a great deal of 
anxiety about me, and very naturally. My situation was, I 
may now say, a very unpleasant one. I felt it fully. To 
attack the batteries and rebel fleet with my own insignificant 
force would have been an extreme folly, a risk which nothing 
could have justified. For my first and special duty was to 
retain command of the river. This was the charge I had 
to keep, my particular trust. Losing that command, I ex- 
posed the long extent of country bordering on the Missis- 
sippi to St Louis, bordering on the Ohio, the Tennessee, 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 243 

the Cumberland, and all their tributaries. I exposed the 
rear of General Halleck's army at Corinth ; and, finally, I 
renewed the alarms of war throughout the West and North- 
west, losing all the hard-won advantages of Foote and Pope. 
I was, in fact, just in a situation to carry out the maxim 
that ** Grab is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better." 

Besides, even if I could have silenced the guns on the long 
line of fortifications at Fort Pillow, I had no means of taking 
possession of the works and holding them. General Quinby 
thought his force, amounting to tweniy-two hundred men, 
insufficient for the purpose ; and I could contribute noUiing, 
for it would have been ridiculous to unman the ships to man 
the forts. 

Though all this was manifest, the public was getting rest- 
less and dissatisfied with our apparent inactivity ; and I ex- 
perienced what it is to be goaded by public opinion against 
my judgment. Patience, that sovereign virtue, — 

" When he has done moat, yet will I 
Add an honor, & great patience," 

by preeminence the great virtue of the military leader, — was 
the quality I was called upon to display. It would have been 
a great advantage under such circumstances to have the sup- 
port of a reputation previously acquired. But it is all over 
now, though it was a very uncomfortable time while it lasted. 
You must not f oiget that I like to hear what people say 
about the flotilla and myself and the fight that is ctgreecible^ 
— nothing disagreeable. I do know of no greater folly that 
men commit habitually than that of making themselves mis- 
erable by reading other people's abuse or fault-finding of 
them. They ought to follow Charlotte Bronte's wise rule ; 
my vanity is lively enough, but too wise, sensitive, seU-indul- 
gent, and sympathetic for that, — '* Bring me no more re- 
ports," except pleasant ones. Praise is delicious coming from 
the right source. Laudatus a viro laudato^ — that is good* 



8i4 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

June lOth. Ltst Friday morning, when the action com- 
menced, there were three little tugs lying in the fleet, which 
hastened to get out of the way of the shot, any one of which 
would have sunk them. For safety these little things dnng 
together, their sides touching each other, and paddled o£F as 
rapidly as possihle. Compared with the gunboats .they are 
like pigmies, and, as they retired from the scene of danger, 
they looked like little children going off hand in hand. The 
sight was really touching, and this Tery simile occurred to me 
at the time. 

You ask what you shall send me. There is nothing I am 
so much in want of as a glass of wine. I am OTermn with 
Tisitors, and sometimes a person comes to whom I wish to 
be hospitable. It is the custom among some civilized nations 
on such occasions to offer a glass of wine to a friend or vis- 
itor. I have no wine, nothing but water, and Mississippi 
water at that, — more dirty than that which runs down the 
gutter of Beacon Street in a summer shower. Send me a 
dozen of pale sherry. 

June 12tL The ^* Appeal" says the rebel rams ^ can hold 
the Mississippi against Foote and Farragut" 

The above from the ^' Memphis Appeal " is one of a thou- 
sand similar examples of self-deception. It is an interesting 
fact that may escape notice that the rebel fleet originated 
here, and exhausted all its glories and boasts, its pride and 
its vauntings, its triumphs and ostentatious displays, here ; 
and here, too, it ate its leek, and ^ out of doubt, and out of 
questions, too, and ambiguities." Its defeat was witnessed 
by its friends, its owners [it was a joint-stock company], and 
its enemies, too. ^^ Earl Percy sees my fall t " 

June 18th. Yesterday our hospital boat, just fitted out at 
St. Louis, came down the river and anchored by our side. 
I wish you could see her. You would be most agreeably 
struck with her neatness, airiness, and comfortable accommo- 
dations. She is an honor to her projectors and to the govern- 



FOBT PILLOW AND MEMPHTS 246 

ment. Slie has nuneB, a knndress^ and other things ^ ao» 
cording." Strange to say, her captun is an old shipmate 
and messmate of mine in the frigate OhUed States. Thirty- 
nine years ago nearly, we went on board ship together ; and 
thirfy-five years since we parted in New York, to meet only 
once again, and that was soon after, in 1828, till we came 
together yesterday. I recalled his features and he mine. 
He has not a gray hair in his head or his beard. He con- 
trasted, with high satisfaction, his brown rongh hair and whis- 
kers with my bald head and white beard, little thinking that 
it was in a measure on account of them that he was then 
b^ging me to improve his own sitoation and get a place for 
his son. 

June 19th. We have a melancholy day to-day. A gnn- 
boat returned this morning from the expedition up White 
Biver, bringing an account of an engagement with two forts 
there by our yessek and the troops under Colonel Fitch, in 
which the former were captured. It was a gallant Uttle 
affair. The gunboats silenced the first fort, and the troops 
carried the second by storm. But the victory was dearly 
purchased. An accidental shot from the enemy's second 
battery penetrated the steam-drum of the gunboat Mound 
Cityt and scalded the greater part of the crew, after having 
killed four men outright. The complement of the Mound 
City is one hundred and seventy-five men and officers. Of 
these, eighty-two are already buried ; forty-three were drowned 
or killed by the savage enemy while in the water ; twenty-five 
are badly wounded (scalded), in which number is included 
Captain Kilty. The wounded promise to do well, and twenty- 
five only of the one hundred and seventy-five — three officers 
and twenty-two men — escaped without injury. This scene 
of horror was rendered more frightful by the enemy's shooting 
our wounded and scalded men in the water, and by firing 
into the boats of the other vessels of the squadron which 
came to the assistance of the poor, helpless, drowning, and 



24C CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

fM»Jded Tiotims. Contrast tlus with our hnmaniiy on the Ctfa, 
when our boats and tugs were busily employed in rescuing 
the disabled enemy in and out of the water. 

This barbarous conduct on the part of the enemy will lead 
to terrible retaliation. The men of the squadron are now 
very much excited, and vow yengeance. 

Some touching incidents occurred after the action. After 
the first agonies and distress of the calamity were oyer, most 
of the patients died quietly and without pain. They, many 
of them, disposed of purses and small effects ; some sent home 
their swords, watches, etc. ; several said they were satisfied 
to die, when they were told that the forts were ours. Lastly, 
some few officers ordered their bodies to be sent home. You 
will naturally be anxious lest a similar accident should happen 
to the Benton. She, however, is better protected than. the 
other boats, and her machinery is underneath the deck and 
mostly under water. It is told me that the Mound City had 
one hundred and sixty pounds pressure on at the time of the 
explosion. The explosion of the General Beauregard in the 
action of the 6th — I passed within a hundred feet of her 
when the steam was pouring out — gave me an idea of the 
horror of such an accident. So also did the explosion of the 
Van Dom in the action at Fort Pillow, though I was very 
much farther from her at the time. 

June 20th. I find to my comfort that I have forty-one 
of the poor fellows, who were scalded with steam on board 
the Mound CUy^ in the hospital boat, instead of twenty-five 
as I wrote you yesterday. I have been to see them this morn- 
ing, and find that most of them will recover. General Wal- 
lace, who dined with me yesterday, and is a very -agreeable 
person, sent two surgeons from his division, — Dr. Jessup 
and Dr. McClellan, — and the number of nurses has been in- 
creased. Sister Angela, Superior of the Sisters of the Holy 
Cross, offered the services of the Sisters when needed, while 
the hospital boat was fitting out at St. Louis, and I have 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 247 

written to Captain Pennock to send for them. I went on 
board last night, and saw some of the bad oases dressed. It 
was a very painful sight, particularly so because the faces 
are so terribly disfigured, — red, swollen, blistered, and dis- 
torted. . . • But comfort yourself with the idea that they 
are well cared for. 

June 22d. Greneral Lew Wallace came on board yester- 
day afternoon by appointment, and we took a run down the 
river in one of the tugs to look at the buried, or mostly 
buried, remains of the Jeff Thompson and Beauregard. 
The former is the vessel that was blown up in her magazine. 
I landed on the river bank, which is strewed near the water 
with iron braces and fastenings and with charred remains of 
broken timbers. Some trees on the water's edge are scorched 
by the conflagration. The smoke-stack of this vessel is still 
standing and visible, to mark the spot where she descended. 
The Beauregard is irrevocably gone, but a good deal of her 
still shows above the water. From her we went to the hos- 
pital ship, where, at first, the general was very unwilling to 
go. I had given up the thought of taking him there when 
hetwked me to do so. General Lew (as he is caUed) Wal- 
lace has seen a great deal of service. He was distinguished 
on the bloody field of Shiloh, and still more at Fort Donel- 
son, where he won his present rank. He had seen the field 
of battle after the rapture of the strife had subsided, and the 
earthquake voice of victory had died away. He describes it 
as a most painful, dreadful sight. But this scene of suffering 
was more oppressive, he said, than a battiefield. In truth it 
has quite unmanned me. The patients are doing well this 
morning with one exception. Kilty ^ gets along very well, 
and the doctor, who we thought was sinking yesterday, revived 
last evening, and is better this morning. 

m 

1 Captain Eiltj lost his arm, and was promoted. He died a retired 
rear admiral in 1879. He was Davis's senior in age, and before the war 
had been his senior in rank. 



S48 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

June 23d. Our expedition to White Siver is in some 
measure a failure, owing to the low stage of the riyer. The 
boats have returned to the mouth of the river, having grounded 
several times and run the risk of being detained all summer. 

June 24th. The extreme heat, and consequent suffering 
and danger to the scalded patients, induced me to send the 
liospital boat to Cairo, with the expectation that Bome would 
go home, some would be put into the Mound City Hospital, 
and some go to St Louis. The weather has been very un- 
favorable to the poor fellows : some have already sunk under 
it ; many more, I fear, will be overcome. It is very touching 
to witness the cool and determined manner in which some of 
these brave men are struggling with death. They are deter- 
mined to make use of every means of recovery, and keep 
themselves very quiet. One po<»* fellow, one of the worst 
scalded, said to me yesterday : ^ I hope you will keep your 
health, sir." I am glad she has gone (the hospital boat), 
not only because the patients will be better off and in a 
cooler climate, but as a relief to myself. I was losing my 
appetite and spirits by the distressing sights, and still more 
by the offensive smell of the hospital. I must have something 
to sweeten my imagination. 

June 25th. We are having now one of the hot terms, 
and it is worse, I think,, than Central America. There the 
sea breeze and the land breeze alternated, and there was 
almost always some air stirring, except in the early morning. 
I must confess, however, that I have always endured the hot 
weather very well ; and, when I think what a pleasant station 
this would be in winter, I hope I shall be able to fight 
through the summer and retain my flag, which, by the way, 
I am so lud^ in getting. How many above me are without 
one! 

I had a note from Foote this morning, telling me he has 
a leave of absence for three months, and grieving over the 
loss of his conmiand. I am truly sorry for him. He labored 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 240 

wonderfully Iiard to build up this flotilla, and he regards it 
as his own affair, and justly, too. I am very much grieyed 
for him, and I shall write him word he can have the command 
again as soon as he wishes for it. 

June 28tlu Since finishing the inclosed letter I have re- 
ceived a message from Farragut, asking me to come down 
and help him take Vicksburg. I am getting ready to go 
now, and as I move, Uke an old Highland chief, with my tail 
on, my preparations are few and many, like the old woman's 
troubles. I am afraid our r^^ular communications will be 
interrupted for some time, and think it not impossible you 
may not hear from me for several days. But I shall come 
right back as soon as the circumstances will permit 

This I mean to make my headquarters, if left to myself. 
There is a wide field of work and usefulness in the tribu- 
taries, and I mean to make this my depot of stores, work- 
shops, etc. 

A word remains to be said, before this chapter doses, 
in relation to Davis's status during the first month of 
his command on the river ; and it is a di£&cult word to 
write. In justice to Davis himself, however, it must 
be said. 

Davis had come into the flotilla, for temporary duly, 
at the request of Foote himself, and he had expected to 
be second in command with Foote, as he had been sec- 
ond in command with Du Pont. On April 29th Foote 
wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, " Your unofficial 
note of the 23d, referring to Captain Davis being 
ordered to report to me, hut on no account to relieve 
me in commandy has been received ; " but on May 9th, 
when Davis arrived on board the Benton^ Foote was 
sick in bed, and totally incapacitated for duty. He 
left the same day for Cleveland, Ohio, and his first and 



250 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

only order to Davis was^ ^' You will be pleased, daring 
my absence, to perform all the duties of the flag 
officer ; and as such, and being hereby invested toith 
flag officer^ s authority, all officers and others attached 
to and connected with this flotilla will obey your orders 
and act under your instructions." 

That is, Davis did relieve Foote fully and completely, 
and Foote never, from the day he left the Benton at 
Fort FiUow, had any control over, or official relation to 
or with, the flotilla in any way whatever, either remote 
or direct ; but his flag still flew on board the Benton, 
and the arrangement was such as to put Davis in a 
thoroughly equivocal position, in which any credit 
which might accrue to the flotilla might pass to the 
officer still constructively in command, though actually 
and permanently separated from the field of action by 
hundreds of miles, and too iU in body to perform any 
duty at all; and the responsibility for disaster and 
failure, should such occur, would necessarily rest and 
remain with the officer '^ invested with flag officer^ s 
authority ;^^ and, in this ambiguous relation toward 
the constructive commander-in-chief, Davis fought two 
principal battles which annihilated the enemy's naval 
power on the Mississippi, and Foote's biographer was 
able and willing complacently to declare, with barely 
a reference to Davis himself, that ^^ Fort Pilloto 
was actually captured while he [Foote] was still in 
oommand.** 

The presence of Foote's flag on board the Benton 
on the Mississippi Biver, from May 9th to June 23d, 
while he himself was sick in bed in Cleveland, Ohio, 



FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS 251 

makes the question a peculiar one from a naval point 
of view. The flag of an admiral or flag officer has 
but one signification : it means the actual presence 
on board from day to day of the officer whose rank it 
designates; and it flies only from the ship in which 
that officer is actually embarked. If he is separated 
from the ship, the flag is hauled down. There is but 
one exception to this rule in naval law and usage, and 
that is in case the admiral himself is killed in battle, 
when his flag continues to fly until the engagement is 
over, and is then hauled down to half-mast as long as 
his body remains on board. It is a scandalous thing 
for a flag officer to keep his flag flying on board of 
one ship, in battle, while he himself is actually on 
board of another. This was one of the gravest of 
the charges under which the Italian admiral, Persano, 
was tried for his life, after the battle of lissa; and the 
instance of Ferry's shifting his flag &om one ship to 
another during the battle on Lake Erie is familiar to 
every schoolboy, and marks and emphasizes the invio- 
lable rule that the flag proclaims the bodily presence 
of the commander-in-chief. 

It must be said tiiat Foote fuUy expected, when he 
left the Benton, that his absence would be only tempo- 
rary, and that it was judged inexpedient to haul down 
the flag in the presence of the enemy. It must also be 
said that Davis himself acquiesced in the arrangement ; 
but neither of these facts makes the act itself less one 
of impropriety and injustice ; and during the whole of 
this period the department, corresponding with Davis, 
addressed him, sometimes as flag officer and sometimes 



253 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

as captain commanding pro tern., and the flag mm not 
finally granted to him until after the battle of Memphis^ 
and then not because it was his ahready by right, but 
because Foote, recognizing the ineTitable^ voluntarily 
relinquished the nominal command^ and asked for a 
leave of absence. Davis had acquiesced in the arrange- 
ment, but he did so because he really did not care for 
such things. He was totally and absolutely free from 
the mean self-seeking that is the motive of so many in 
time of war. His acquiescence was an act of gen- 
erosity and self-abnegation which those who proposed it 
were quite incapable of either appreciating or under* 
standing, though they were willing enough to profit by 
it. He was not in the war for the personal advantage 
which the war might bring to himself. He had a 
proper professional pride and a decent self-respect, but 
he knew how to govern his mind, and how to put the 
right value on all things ; '^ and after all/' he writes, 
^' however my mind may be disturbed by a sense of in- 
justice, by disappointment, by professional slights and 
wrongs, and by private regrets, nothing clouds my dis- 
tinct perception of the real insig^nificance of these 
things in the general scheme of Providence, and my 
humble and most fearful but trustful dependence upon 
Qody in whose great hands I stand or fall." 

Admiral Porter, in commenting on the battle of 
Memphis says: ''For the second time. Bear Admiral 
Davis won a strictly naval victory, and won it without 
a single mistake. . . . Take the battle together witli 
its results, it was one of the handsomest achievements 
of the war, but it did not receive that general notice 



FORT PILLOW AND MEAfPHTS 268 

which it deserved. If Mr* Secretary Welles, who was 
liberal with his eulogistic letters to those whom he 
approved of, ever congratulated Bear Admiral Davis 
and his officers for their brilliant success, it nowhere 
appears in the Secretary's report for 1862. But history 
will eventually give due credit to all the brave men 
who served their country faithfully in the time of her 
greatest need* The prejudices and jealousies of the 
times will have passed away, and the truthful historian, 
who takes time to examine the records carefully, will 
give to each his proper place, and render justice to 
those who have not yet received it*" 



CHAPTER Xn 

YICKSBUBG AND THE BAM ABKANSAS 

Fob the causes which led to Flag Officer Farragut's 
advance up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to 
Vickshurg, in June, 1862, and for Farragut's own part 
in the futile attempt to reduce the formidable batteries 
at that place, the reader may consult Captain Mahan's 
« life of Admiral Farragut " (chapter viii.). Farragut 
had ascended the river against his own judgment, and 
yielding only to peremptory orders from the Navy De- 
partment and the mandate of the commander-in-chief 
of the amy and navy himself. In this premature 
move upon Vicksburg, the squadrons of both Farragut 
and Davis were far in advance of their legitimate Unes 
of operation; for the movement of the naval forces 
upon the inland waters was, or should have been, 'de- 
pendent upon, and in support of, the movements of 
armies. An attempt to reduce a position like Y icksburg 
with the navy alone, and without the support and 
cooperation of a sufficient land force, was simply a 
waste of life, sure to end in failure, and in mortifica- 
tion to those principally engaged, Davis himself was 
within the limits of his cruising ground, for by the vic- 
tory at Memphis he had opened the upper Mississippi 
to free navigation as far as Y icksburg ; but there was 



YICKSBURG AND THE BAM ARKANSAS 255 

no real military reason for the presence of either squad- 
ron at y icksburg* at this time, and for the upper flotilla, 
as Davis himself had written, there was a large field 
for work and usefulness in the tributaries. Farragut's 
sole anxiety after getting above Yicksburg was to get 
back again without losing his ships, and the same 
anxiety was felt by the authorities in Washington, 
which had insisted upon this hazardous and useless 
move. His orders to return to New Orleans, which 
were as peremptory as those to ascend the river, were 
received after he had run the batteries &om above. 
General Williams was forced to withdraw with the 
small force under his command by the ravages of the 
epidemic which attacked the troops and the flotilla; 
so that Davis was abandoned in his precarious situation 
above the batteries, with his long line of communica- 
tions seriously threatened, and with his own smaU force 
seriously reduced by the loss of two ships which had 
run the batteries in an attempt to destroy the Ar* 
kansas. There was of course only one thing left for 
him to do, namely, to withdraw from an untenable 
position. In withdrawing he was not in retreat^ but 
was simply falling back on his proper base; yet he 
seems to have been the only one of the three com- 
manders who was censured, although all three pursued 
exactly the same course. The responsibility for the 
Arkansas sSsit was laid solely at his door, though he 
planned the reconnoissance up the Yazoo ; and it was 
the engagement with the Carondelet, one of Davis's 
own ships, which had so crippled the Arkansas that 
she was powerless to effect any injury to the ships as 



256 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

she passed through the combined squadrons. More- 
over, the course of the ArkansM took her down the 
river^ and into the limits of Farragut's station; and, 
finally, it was the Esaex^ of Davis's own squadron, 
which destroyed her. So that it would appear that the 
blame for the escape of the Arkansas cannot justly be 
imputed to Davis, especially as he would have been 
operating in the tributaries and would probably have 
destroyed the ArkansaSy if he had not been engaged 
in the futile attempt on Yicksburg, of which he was 
not the author. The Arkansas had been built in 
Memphis, and was unfinished at the time of the evacu- 
ation of Fort Pillow, but had been towed down the 
Mississippi and into the Yazoo Biver to be completed ; 
and Davis had received reports of her, and was pre- 
pared, in a measure, for her appearance. The story of 
Davis's share in the attempt on Yicksburg may be told 
in his own language : — 

FuLGsmp Benton, 
MnszBBipn Rivkr, June 29» 18C2. 

We are now below Baok Island, on our way to Vicksbarg. 
I have six of the mortar-boats in company, and, if the state of 
things is correctly described to me, we shall have the city 
under our fire. It must either surrender or be destroyed. I 
was in hopes that Farragut would have finished this business 
himself, as he would have done, but that Lieutenant-Colonel 
EUet, the brother of Bam EUet, went down and communi- 
cated with him, when he sent up a message to me to ask my 
assistance. 

He says, ^* If Commodore Davis*s ironclad gunboats could 
be present, they would greatly add to the chances of success 
without much loss of life.'^ I feel quite anxious about Mem- 



VICKSBURG AND THE RAM ARKANSAS 257 

phis. There are only four thonsand troops there, and the 
enemy is in the vicinity. I leave two gunboats at Memphis, 
two at Fort Pillow, and two in the White Biver. I have 
with me only four. It is a long reach of river from Memphis 
to Vicksburg, — four hundred miles. It will take this boat 
nearly a week to go back. As soon as Vicksburg is taken, 
I shall return to Memphis, which I hope to make my head- 
quarters, and then, probably, the old navy yard will be 
resumed, or a new one established. 

You perceive, by my appointment, that I have all the 
tributaries of the Mississippi under my control ; and I have 
written to Washington to propose the construction, or rather 
the purchase and suitable equipment, of some steamboats of 
light draught that can navigate these waters during the dry 
season, and repel the guerrilla bands, keeping the oommunicac 
tions open. 

Elaoshzp BEnrov, 
ISLAin> No. 76, June dO, 1862. 

An opportunity unexpectedly occurs to write you this 
morning by one of EUet's rams which is bound up the river. 

I have received a long letter from Farragut, in which he 
says that more troops are required to hold the city after we 
have silenced the batteries. 

General Williams is cutting a ditch across the point where 
the mortars are marked on the sketch, or somewhat above, to 
change the course of the river and pass clear of the city. 
Curious piece of Yankee enterprise. 

Above Vicksburg, July 2d. Yesterday was a day of most 
agreeable excitement. We arrived at this anchorage, which 
is just above the position of the mortar-boats, but in the 
middle of the river, at ten o'clock in the morning. Several 
of Farragut's gunboats were stationed up the river, and we 
passed them from time to time, before reaching the main 
body of the fleet. 

When we entered upon the line of the lower fleet, every 



268 CHABLES HENRT DAVIS 

yesael cheered ns as we came abreasty and thus we steamed 
along the whole line until we had passed the flagship of Com- 
modore Farragat. To each pennant we gave an answering 
cheer, but to the flag we gave the osnal three cheers and a 
reply ; and in this way the two victorious fleets, crowned with 
the honors of Forts Jackson and Philip, New Orleans, Grand 
Ghilf , and Yicksbnrg, with Forts Henry and Donelson, Co- 
lumbus, Island No* 10, Pillow, and Memphis, came together 
and celebrated their union. You may conceive the interest 
of this occasion, and its importance, historical and military. 
Certainly it has been my fortune to witness some exciting 
scenes, — emotive, to employ a word seldom used. To the 
navy officers, especially the old ones, there were wanting 
many sources of exdtement shared by others : to the majority 
of the men and volunteer officers, everything was strange and 
wonderfuL My own people almost lost their senses. Cap- 
tain Phelps and myself were very much amused at their 
bewilderment, at the first sight of a fleet of regular men-of- 
war. Our own gunboats were objects of great curiosity, also, 
to the men-of-war's men ; so were the little tugs. When I 
passed through the fleets in the Jessie Benton to Flag Officer 
Farragut's ship, to make (being the junior) the first call, 
with the red flag indicating my rank and presence, the higher 
decks and ports of every vessel were crowded. I should not 
have thought beforehand that so striking and exciting a scene 
could have been created by the meeting of two squadrons. 

I parted with Commodore Farragut in Port Boyal on his 
way out to his station on the first or second day of March 
last Little did I think then that, descending the Missis- 
sippi, I should meet him coming up. What obstacles then 
lay between, and how have they been overcome I You may 
suppose that our greetings were cordial and hearty, — given 
and taken with both hands, not one. 

And I was touched with the kindness of many old friends, 
who congratulated me with feeling on our successes and on 



TICKSBUBG AND THE JUM ARKANSAS 308 

my flag. M7 ship wai crowded vith 'viaiton. My old friend 
Phillips Lee, Palmer aim, and other old aoqnaintanoea, I met 
Nov that we have got here, yon will wish to know what 
we are going to do. There is one thing we are not going to 
do, — we are not going to take ViokBbnrg without a larger 



number o£ troops. I begin to bombard above immediately ; 
am platnng the mortars now. Porter is at work below. Bat 
I shall reserve this for the next letter. I am just expecting 
Gimmodore Farragat and General Williams on an official 
visit. 

July 4tli. The hope at one time danoed before onr ^es and 
hearts that we ihoold celebrate this aospioions morning at 
New Orleans ; bat, though disappointed in this, we accept onr 
junction in the two fleets as a happy omen. To-day we carry 
an mrasnal number of flags, and all fire a salute at twelve 
o'oloak. I promised in my last letter to tell you something 
about our military statns. Yon will get from the sketch I 
sent you an idea of the extent of the bluffs on which stands 
the <nty of Vickabnrg. These blnffs an covered in front 
with batteries of heavy guns, terraced ime above the other. 



290 GHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

and the oapture and possession of them are impossible, except 
with a military f oroe. The other morning Farragat dashed 
by them at daylight with a portion of his squadron, and is 
still above the town. His list of casualties was smalL He 
can go back at night with littie loss. We require twenty 
thousand men, and perhaps more, to hold Vicksburg. But 
there is a method of turning all these heavy fortifications 
and batteries, and of chastising the insolent and corrupt city 
of Vicksburg, that seems to have been provided by Nature 
herself. The sketch ought to be altered (to make it correct) 
by carrying in the shore line above the mortar-boats easterly 
in a curved direction, so as to create a narrow neck between 
the two reaches of the river above and below the city* It 
has always been a subject of apprehension to the religious and 
enlightened inhabitants of that hell (as gambling-houses are 
termed in Paris) lest the channel of the river should of its 
own accord, or by artificial means, take its way across the 
narrow neck, and thus annihilate Vicksburg by converting 
the site of the town into the bottom of a shute, instead of the 
bank of the main channel bordering on deep water. (A 
shute, in Mississippi River technology, is the subsidiary chan- 
nel on one side of an island.) It has been proposed to do 
this by a cut, and the plan has been submitted to the legisla- 
ture of the State. It was, of course, opposed by the people 
of Vicksburg, who for all purposes of trade might as well 
have their town removed five miles back from the bank of 
the river. So alarmed were they about it that they have 
even feared their friends the negroes (who were going to 
fight their battles I) would cut the ditch some dark night. 
Now General Williams, the military commander here, has so 
far advanced in cutting the ditch that it will be completed 
to-morrow night. There are nearly one thousand negroes now 
at work. It is not a propitious moment for the undertaking, 
because the river is falling. It is the rising river, the swell 
and flood of the freshet, that force open these new channels, 



VICKSBUBG AND THE BAM ARKANSAS 261 

after the hard-pan below the soil has been removed and the 
way opened to the loose sand underlying it. But though the 
river is now falling at this place, there is promise of a speedy 
return of the waters. It is reported that the June rise is 
greati and the rains heavy on the upper Missouri, and that all 
the upper rivers are in good stage, as the expression is. The 
swell corresponding to this rise and these rains will soon be 
here, when we hope for the best results. To add the last 
word on this subject, the line of survey for the former pro> 
posed cut has been identified, and a line of levels, run by 
General Williams across the neck, showed that at that time 
(of leveling) the water on this side was three and a half feet 
higher than on the other. 

What a grand residt it would be to leave this Hesperian 
dragon ruminating on what he meant to do, and would do if 
he could, while the white messengers of peace and commerce 
passed beyond the reach of his pestiferous breath I A great 
and bloodless victory ! May God, who has been so good to 
us, grant us his favor in this undertaldng. 

July 11th. No change has taken place in the state of 
affairs here since I wrote last, except that the canal is cut 
and the attempt is to be made to open it this afternoon. The 
river has fallen continually, with slight pauses, since our 
arrival, but it is hoped that by putting stem-wheel steamers 
at the opening on thb side, the sides and bottom may be 
washed in, and the river may be persuaded to enter into its 
new channeL It is a rather big undertaking, but there is a 
good deal of faith somewhere. It is again said, in the ^ Mis- 
souri Bepublican " of the 6th inst, that the Missouri Biver is 
rising from its source to the mouth, and that the upper end 
of the river is very high. One of my oldest and most ex- 
perienced pilots says that there will be a ** big river " (such 
is the phrase) in ten days or a fortnight. Should this prove 
to be the case, we shall soon know what the Father of Waters 
has to say to this attempt to stay and divert his course. 



262 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

July 14ih. Things go on here without variation : it is 
just as stupid as it was above Fort Pillow, except the society 
afforded by the lower squadron. The heat exceeds, I think, 
anything I have ever encountered in the course of my ser- 
vice. But it is not worth while to complain of what cannot 
be helped. The Btagg ^ has got down, and I expect to find 
my quarters on board of her more cool and quiet This morn- 
ing I am going to send a gunboat eighly miles up the Yazoo 
to reconnoitre and jyrepare the way for an expedition, which 
will go up in considerable force if necessary. I have just 
been sent for, for consultation, on board the Hartford^ Farra- 
gut's ship, and shall put this in an envelope, lest there should 
be no opportunily to write further before the boat goes. 

July 16th. Yesterday was a day of excitement and fatigue, 
the events of which are likely to make a figure in history. I 
told you in my last hurried note that I was about fitting out 
an expedition for the Yazoo, and that I was called suddenly 
to attend a conference on this subject, — suddenly, but not 
unexpectedly, for we had held this affair under consideration 
for some days. Various examinations of the Yazoo, as far 
as eighty miles from the mouth, had informed us that there 
was a raft obstructing the passage at that point, with a bat* 
tery near it below, and the new ram ArhansuB above, a 
formidable craft, almost as efficient in design as the Merri' 
mac of terrible renown. But we had every reason to believe 
that the Arkansas was unfinished and aground. Enough of 
uncertainty prevailed, however, to induce Gleneral Williams 
and myself to agree to a reconnoissance in some force, in 
order to form a correct idea of the force to be sent up to cap- 
ture the fort and destroy the ArJcansas. 

Such was our information, and such the state of things, 
when the party started up the Yazoo (the mouth of which is 
only six miles from our present anchorage), at four o'clock 
yesterday morning. This party consisted of the iron gunboat, 

^ One of the Tetaels captured at Memphis and taken into servioe. 



YICKSBUBG AND THE RAM ARKANSAS 263 

the Carondeletj a wooden gimboat» ihe 2h/ler^ and one of 
Colonel EUet's rams. On board the two last were distributed 
forty sharp-shooters from (General Williams's oommand. 

lliey had only proceeded a few miles np the river when 
they met this devil, the ArhansaSj coming down, — an ugly 
customer, well protected, almost inyulnerable, with a heavy 
battery in casemate. An action began which resulted in the 
Caronddet being injured and run aground, the 7\fler being se- 
verely injured and driven off, and the ram (not commanded 
by Lieutenant -Colonel EUet in person) leaving without a 
show of fight, which called down some hard names on her 
captain, who seems to have had what the pilots call a ** big 
scare " on him. 

The Arkansas^ making her way after tiie flying enemy, 
came down the Mississippi through our combined fleet, 
serving her guns with great effect, and defying danger or 
interruption. It was certainly a very exciting and pleasing 
sight so far as the gallantry of the thing was concerned, but 
a little too tantalizing for the numerous men-of-war, secure 
in their very numbers, who were lying idle, helpless, motion- 
less, without steam, and without means of resistance, except 
that of flring their broadsides as the ironclad rascal went by. 

The rapid and continuous flring in the river Yazoo, plainly 
heard by us, excited some suspicion, but we, most of us, 
came to the conclusion that the flring was upon guerrilla 
parties only. But Captain Phelps was the flrst to appre- 
hend something serious, and sent to me for permission to 
raise the steam. We had then only thirty pounds of steam, 
and required sixty to move. We flred up, but before we 
could move — and this vessel was the flrst, and, with one ex- 
ception, the only man-of-war under way — the ram was far 
below us and out of reach; she had passed below the bat- 
teries. It is impossible to say what injury she sustained.^ 

1 M When the ArhamoM reaehed the fleet, her ginoke-sta4sk had been 80 
often perforated by the CarcndeUft shot that her boilers eoold soaroely 



261 CHABLES H£NBY DAVIS 

She seemed at one time to be yery much crippled, and I 
made sure of her ; bnt she managed to escape. Having fol- 
lowed her down to the point, I engaged the upper battery. 
Shortly afterwards, I went down with Farragut again, to 
show him the position of the batteiy, and in the evening, as I 
shall tell yon, again. 

If yon remember what I have previously told you of Com- 
modore Farragut, you may imagine his excitement at this 
scene of mortification and rebel triumph. He desired to 
make it worse by putting his whole command in all sorts of 
perilous positions, and treated my reason as very cold and 
repulsive. The contrast between us was very striking, though 
perf ectiy friendly. During the day he decided to run by the 
batteries, and take care of the remainder of his fleet below. 
I covered his passage by the upper batteries for an hour ; 
this made the fourth time I was under fire during the day. 
The old Benton was struck in the hull a dozen times, but 
only one man was killed, and two wounded and ten missing. 

I thought after the morning at Memphis I had done with 
rams, but here this scamp has come to keep us again in a 
state of excitement and apprehension. 

July 18th. You may imagine that, since the escapade of 
the rebel ram, we have passed an uncomfortable time. After 
such a calamity there is a great disposition to find fault, and 
to impute blame to some one. On such occasions a scape- 
goat must be found. Those whose pride and self-love are 
wounded, or who fear censure and are anxious to anticipate 
it, have a way of hiding their own share in the transaction, 
either by a direct charge, or by concealing the true issue. I 
shall resort to none of these devices. I have been fortunate, 
and am content to suffer misfortune. Shall I receive good, 
and not evil, at the hands of the Lord? 

■apply any iteuii. Her speed was thereby rednoed to one knot, power- 
less to lam and soaroely snffioient to steer.'' Vide Captain Mahan's Life 
of Admiral Farragut^ p. 191. 



YICESBUEG AND THE BAM ARKANSAS 265 

Wliat annoys me is that Farragat invites me to join him 
in plaoing both squadrons under the guns of the batteries, 
thus risking the great trust we hold, to indulge a momentary 
spleen. I fear that I shall be dragged into a violation of my 
dearest sense of duly by his impetuosity. Conceive the fatal 
consequences of the loss of this six hundred miles of river, 
the control of which is the result of five months of hard fight- 
ing and patient waiting, by the army and navy, through vio- 
lent days and weary lights. And yet he writes me that he 
wants to go in ^^ regardless of consequences ** I The loss of 
the Mississippi Biver at this time, after the repulse at Rich- 
mond, would postpone the termination of the war indefinitely, 
spread panic throughout the Northwest, interrupt business, 
lower stocks, and provoke foreign interference; but, above 
all, it would give such encouragement to the rebels, and so 
entirely dishearten our friends in the South, that the hope 
of putting down this rebellion in any reasonable time would 
be lost. And yet my friend the admiral says we are to act 
^regardless of consequences." This is the language of a 
Hotspur, and not of one that hath a rule over his own spirit ; 
with such counsels, we shall soon be like a cily that is broken 
down and without walls. My own conceptions of duty are so 
dear and distinct that I shall not forget my paramount obli- 
gations to my country to gratify a feeling of resentful pride. 

Yet you must not think that Farragut and I differ un- 
kindly. Nothing can exceed his kindness, candor, and liber- 
ality; our old ties have been strengthened by our present 
intercourse. He is a man who unites with a bold and impetu- 
ous spirit an affectionate temper, and a generous and candid 
nature. 

We have kept our mortars very busy lately, firing at the 
rebel ram and gunboat Arkansas, which is kept uneasy by 
our shells. She was injured by shot the morning she passed 
here, and our bombs prevent the work of repair from going 
on during the day. Yesterday we drove the workmen away 



266 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

by the terror of oar explosions ; they were forced back at the 
point of the bayonet. But work, tinder snch conditions, is 
not likely to be well and ezpeditionsly done. We are aiming 
to destroy the ArkanBCLB by the falling bombs, and we come 
▼ery near it when they explode in snch dose proximity to her 
as to oblige eveiy one to abandon her while the firing con- 
tinues. Yesterday we sunk a whaxf-boat (as it is called), 
lying within three hundred yards of her ; the boat was struck 
twice and destroyed. If the same good luck would attend us 
in hitting the ArkansiM, we should be reUeved from anxiety on 
account of this unwelcome stranger. We shall keep at work. 

I belieTC I said nothing in my last of the shot that came 
through us on the 15th. One passed through the iron«plated 
side without difKcully, and, after taking off the head of a man 
close to the shoulders, destroyed the cabin kitchen. Captain 
Phelps's room, and my own room, finally lodging in the very 
centre of my bed. I have saved the shot, and hope to bring 
it home with me one of these days. 

July 2Sd. I must not disguise from you that our troubles 
down here are not diminished. An attempt yesterday morn- 
ing, as we thought well and deliberately planned, to destroy 
ibe ArkansiMi failed through various causes, though it re- 
sulted in doing her some injury. The attempt has left me 
worse off than before. The guerrillas are beginning to trouble 
us on the river ; several of our mail-boats have been fired into, 
and one, we fear, has been sunk. I keep at the Arkanacis 
with the mortars steadily, and have hit her three or four 
times, but not a smashing blow. We make her state very 
disagreeable, and keep her constantly in motion. She showed 
herself round the point this morning, and we were in hopes 
she was coming up. I have no doubt that we shall drive her 
to a state of frenzy. The fact is, our situation is unpleasant, 
knowing, especially, how they are growling at us at home. 

July 25th. The two last days have been delightful ; the 
thermometer has come down to 90*^ in the shade ; there is a 



YICESBUBG AND THE RAM ASEAKSAS 287 

breeze, and at night a sheet is not oppressive. Sailing rapidly 
against the wind in one of the togs prodnoes a chilly sensa- 
tion. This is good for our poor sick, who, the doctor tells me 
this morning, number forty per cent, of all onr people, and 
increase at the rate of four or five per cent a day, on board 
this ship alone, where we are particularly healthy, — four or 
five per cent, of the remaining healthy people. I am so dis- 
abled by the remittent and intermittent foyers of the climate 
tiiat I think of moving up the river. Flag Officer Farragnt 
went down the river yesterday. (General Williams also went 
down yesterday, by which movement our communication with 
the lower river is cut off. I have lost control of my vessels 
below. I urged General Williams to stay, but he replied 
that his orders precluded the exercise of choice, and that, if 
this were not so, he should not venture to remain, on account 
of the effect of the climate on his troops. He brought, he 
said, thirty-two hundred men with him, and carries away 
only eight hundred effective. The other three fourths have 
died from exposure and the climate, or are now in the hospi- 
tal. Lately, ten have died in a day ; it is like a pestilence. 
The ram fleet is in the same condition. 

You would be astonished to see how utterly it prostrates 
tiie patients sick with fever. A large man rises to walk ten 
steps and falls down like a baby, &inting away. 

Mississippi River, July 81st. In my last letter I believe I 
gave you a short account of our last attempt to destroy the 
Arkansfzs. It was a failure in every way. There was a 
want of cooperation, most unaccountable, on the part of Com- 
modore Farragnt, by which one important vessel was not 
brought into the action, and by which the support of his 
squadron was withheld. 

I was informed by Flag Officer Farragnt, immediately 
after the last attack on the Arkansas^ that he intended to 
move down the river at once, in obedience to orders from the 
department ; and, at the same moment, I learned from report 



268 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

that General Williams was to aooompany him with the troops 
under his command. I wrote to General Williams urging 
him to remain and keep open communication above and below 
Yioksburg by railroad, the means for constructing which 
were at hand. He replied that his orders obliged him to 
go, and that without them he would be compelled to move, 
on account of the disabled condition of his command. He 
had brought with him thirty4wo hundred men, of which 
twenty-four hundred were dead or in the hospital. He could 
only muster eight hundred effective men and officers. 

His departure rendered it necessary that I should abandon 
the position I then held, because it gave the enemy the pos- 
session of the point from the ditch down. General Williams 
has, in making the canal, converted it into a means of defense 
by constructing a continued breastwork and rifle-pit on the 
lower border, and introducing an angle, where the levee 
crossed the canal on the upper border, so as to enfilade it. 

It was, therefore, no longer safe for my hospital, commi&> 
sary, and ordnance boats to lie at the bank as they had done. 
I therefore moved up with my whole command to the mouth 
of the Yazoo. Yicksbnrg being thus abandoned above and 
below by the fleets and the army, I had to determine on my 
next step. 

I had allowed the ram Sumter ^ to go down with Farra- 
gut, not only to assist in the attack on the ArhanBoay but to 
assist also in maintaining the blockade of that vessel below ; 
and in the same manner, and with the same motive, I con- 
sented to the Essex going down. I supposed that Commo- 
dore Farragut might go down, — he told me that he had urged 
the department to allow him to do so, — but it never entered 
my head that I should be deserted by the army ; and it was 
my expectation to blockade the town on both sides, keeping 
up the communication between the two detachments of my 
squadron across the neck. 

^ One of tba vesielfl captured at Memphis and taken into the servioe. 



VICESBUB6 AND THE RAM AEEANSAS 269 

Now, however, the Essex and Sumter were wholly lost to 
me. They would be obliged to go to Baton Bouge or New 
Orleans for supplies. The oommunications in my rear were 
so seriously threatened that they could only be kept open by 
gunboats, and my light and fleet gunboats were all under 
repairs. One of my mail-boats had been sunk near Island 
82, under circumstances not known, and several had been 
fired into by horse artillery. Thus my supplies and mails 
were cut off, except they were sent under convoy, which con« 
voy I could not give. 

I received information from a reliable source, and of a cir- 
cumstantial character, that heavy guns were transported across 
the Yazoo to be carried to the vicinity of Island 94, or Island 
92; flying artillery was taken from bank to bank on tiie 
great bends of the river and used twice on the same vessel ; 
a small battery was reported at or near Greenville; and 
small guns and muskets in the hands of guerrilla parties had 
been fired at our vessels from several points between Gaines's 
Landing and Carolina Landing. The same thing had oc- 
curred at and above Napoleon. We had heard repeatedly 
that Price was crossing from Mississippi into Arkansas to 
make a junction with Hindman, and (General Curtis had 
asked for gunboats. 

My squadron had been reduced to a comparatively weak 
condition. Both tiie vessels engaged with the Arkansas in 
the Yazoo Biver had been sent to Cairo for repairs, and, 
having lost the Essex and the Sumter^ I was reduced to 
the Benton^ the Cindrmati in a sinking condition, the LomS" 
ville^ and the ram General Bragg. 

Sickness had made sudden and terrible havoc with my 
people, ft came, as it were, all at once. Ten and fifteen 
oases were added to the sick-list every day for several days ; 
and though many patients were discharged every day, and 
though the usual course of the fever was short, yet the attack 
was invariably followed by extreme debility ; the efficiency of 



270 CHABLES HENBT DAVIS 

the yessel was greatly impaiied, and she was oonyerted into 
a hospital, her deoiks on one side especially being crowded 
with oots and hammoclni. 

The other vessels had suffered in the same way. The hos> 
pital boat had one hundred and fifty patients, and was 
thronged. Eveiy transport and other vessel was more or 
less disabled, and, as for the ordnance boat of the mortar- 
fleet, she had, I think, eighty men on their backs. These 
poor fellows (the mortar^nen) died in the most mysterious 
manner. They would be apparently well at evening, and 
enjoy their supper, and during the night sink away and pass 
off without pain. The surgeon told me he was afraid the 
fever would assume a more serious type, -» it would pass in 
time from one mittent to another, from inter to re or the 
reverse, and thence to typhoid, and from that to bilious con- 
gestive, and so on to whatever there may be that is worse. 
He is an old practitioner in these parts. He wanted to move 
up very much, and wrote me a letter to that effect. The 
symptoms of the scurvy enhanced the pleasures of the scene. 

Taking into consideration all these things, I determined to 
return up the river as far as Helena, and am on my way 
there now. This decision is my own. I talked the matter 
over with one or two persons, but called no council of war. 
The responsibility is my own, and it will not worry me the 
least in the world if it is not approved of. Every prudent 
general keeps open the road in his rear by which he receives 
his communications and supplies. It is as good generalship 
at one time to &U back as at another to advance ; and he who 
obstinately persists in maintaining a position, by which he 
himself is the loser and the enemy the gainer, is worthy to be 
written down an ass. It was not to be expected that I could 
take the city of Vicksburg with my squadron only, without 
troops ; and, this being so, I am as well at Helena as at any 
point lower down. 

But you must distincdy understand one ihing, — that I am 



YICESBUBG AND THE RAM ABEANSAS 271 

not giving xxp the possession of any part of the river I now 
hold by falling back to Helena. Between Helena andVicks- 
bnrg there are no bluffs, no high land suited to fortifioa- 
tions. Grunsoan only be placed in position onthelevel bank, 
where, to be sure, the levee often serves as a breastwork ; 
but they will have no advantage of ground, and our fire will 
easily dislodge them. I shall return down the river with the 
men-of-war when the EcLstport joins me. 

There was one painful circumstance attending our leaving 
Vicksburg. General Williams had collected negroes from 
the plantations for a hundred miles above, to work on the 
ditch or canal ; among them were women and children. When 
he went down the river he was obliged to leave them to take 
care of themselves. We took some of them, and supplied 
tiie others with provisions, and persuaded them to go home. 
They were in terrible distress, — fearful of being whipped, if 
not killed, notwithstanding that they had been taken from 
home by force. 

I have brought up the river with me a large fleet of im- 
pedimenta, coal and ice barges, tugs, and mortar-boats in- 
cluded. Some of the officers tried very hard to persuade me 
to throw the latter overboard, on account of their retarding 
our movements so much. They are nothing but deep, square 
boxes, carrying a dead weight of twenty-five tons each. They 
are a terrible drag, but I declined to listen to the proposition, 
if it took me ten days to get up the river. To throw over- 
board any guns would have given to my falling back to Helena 
— a measure of prudence merely — the character of a hasty 
letreat, or flight even. I was on my cruising-ground, and it 
was of no importance how long it took me to make the pas- 
sage. Fortunately I had coal enough, for I had taken off of 
Farragut's hands the coal he sent for, which arrived after 
he passed below the town. I have now brought them two 
hundred and seventy miles, and am only thirty miles below 
Helena. But the detention has been less than was feared* 



272 CHARLES HENRT DAVIS 

I doubt if they retarded our progress maeli after the tow- 
boats learned how to take hold of them. If nothing hap- 
pens, we shall reach Helena to-night (Thursday) ; we left the 
month of the Yaseoo last Saturday at about three o'clock. 

I have experienced some anxiety during the time from 
having so many helpless vessels in the fleet, and from being 
so utterly helpless myself in one respect, — I mean in the 
power of moving. If the Arkansas had run up into the 
midst of our squadron, she could have caused unutterable 
distress. We should have been as likely to injure friend as 
foe, while she, having only foes around her, could never have 
fired amiss. But in our last attack the shot of the Essex 
made a hole in her side several feet long, and she was other* 
wise in need of repairs. Her captain. Brown, formerly a 
lieutenant in our navy, has his home up here about six miles 
from Helena ; a fine plantation, Phelps tells me, who was once 
intimate with him, sailed and messed with him, and was fond 
of him. He may be showing himself up here, fiourishing off 
in his old haunts. He can trust to his superior speed if the 
Eastport does not come, and he knows, no doubt, that the 
old Benton is slow to wrath, though able to say a good word 
for herself when she reaches the scene of action. You will 
wonder how she has made her way upstream against the 
strong current of the Mississippi. She had the fast and 
powerful side-wheel boat Switzerland tug^ng at her on one 
side and the General Bragg on the other. With these two 
large and heavy boats shoving her along, she cannot go faster 
than the mortar-boats are towed. 

As we approach Helena I am satisfied, from the reports 
received from the transports, towing vessels, etc., that if we 
had remained a week longer at Vicksburg I should not have 
had engineers nor firemen enough to bring the vessels up. 
As it is, we have depended very much on the contrabands to 
do the work in front of the fires. 

Helena, Friday, August 1st. I anchored here last evening 



YICKSBURG AND THE RAM ABEANSAS 278 

at eight o^dock with the whole fleet I hare not dropped a 
coal barge on the way, though yon may well suppose that we 
had a tedious time of it. There is no knowing what crazy 
project the department may have in view, or how this more 
of mine may be taken. But it seems to me that the only 
course now to be pursued is to yield to the climate, and post- 
pone any further action at Vicksburg till the fever season is 
over. This chfldish impatience I have no sympathy with, 
and I have as little with that absurd state of mind that refuses 
to recognize and accept a disappointment or a misfortune. 
^^ Shall we accept the good, and cavil at the ill?" if my 
memory serves me to quote right. Some natures seem never 
to rise to the dignity of self-command. 

The Navy Department had been obliged to aban* 
don its project for the reduction of Vicksburg; in 
fact^ the premature demonstration and the junction 
of the two fleets was probably intended rather to pro- 
duce a moral effect at the North than with any idea 
of military success. But if that were the case, the 
effect was immediately lost, and the attempt had pro- 
duced no effect whatever on the enemy. Whatever 
the desires of the government may have been, the 
climate of the summer months and the low stage of 
the waters in the Western rivers put an effectual stop 
to further operations with the flotilla until the cool 
weather returned. From Helena Davis returned to 
Cairo, the headquarters of the flotilla, for conference 
with the mflitery authorities, and for a general repair 
of his ships during the period of forced inactivity ; and 
he had no sooner got there than he fell ill himself 
with the fever of the climate. Fortunately this illness 
occurred at a place where he was able to move out of 



274 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

his ship and find sick-quarters on shore ; and he passed 
nearly three weeks in the house of Captain Pennock, 
the commandant of the naval station at Cairo, under 
a severe attack of the fever and in slow convalescence. 
The latter was favored by a change, in the middle of 
Aug^t, from the intense heat of the summer to the 
first cool breath of autumn, and while still confined to 
the commandant's house at Cairo he writes, under date 
of August 16th : — 

A change has come over the weather here. Night before 
last there was an exceedingly violent storm, and yesterday 
and to-day the weather has been more tban cooL Last night 
I slept under a light coverlid and blanket. The change is 
so extreme that it is almost uncomfortable. But it is impos* 
sible to complain after the heat. I never can describe to 
you that heat, particularly at Vicksburg. There are days 
with us, you know, in midsummer, when the air is perfectly 
still and breathless, and one gasps for breath. Imagine a 
continued succession of such days, — long, long, weary, red- 
hot, gasping days, that seem as if they made no progress 
at all, as if they would never end. And then to go below 
into an atmosphere warmer than the upper air, like a kitchen 
or diying-room, and all night to swelter in the same heat, — 
I shall never forget it as long as I live. I believe I may 
thank God that the worst of it is over. The climate at 
Helena is much more mild and healthy than at Vicksburg, 
and we are not likely to go to Vicksburg again for the pre- 
sent, or, if so, for a short time only. 

I told you that General Curtis and I came up here to- 
gether on bunness. The object of our coming was to per- 
suade the government to let us make a combined movement 
on Vicksburg. General Curtis's troops are fresh and healthy, 
and if it were done suddenly it would be attended with sue- 



YICESBURG AND THE BAM ABEANSAS 276 

0688. The govemnieiit decEned. It was getting an army 
ready, it said, for Vicksbnrg ; and I imagine it means to 
avoid exposing new troops to a olimate that has the reputation 
of being very dangerous to strangers at this season of the 
year. But Yicksburg is doomed. 

During his stay at Cairo Davis had the pleasure of 
hearing of the destruction of the ram Arkansas. The 
two gunboats, the JEssex and Sumter, which he had 
sent down to attack the ram as she lay at the bank 
under ihe Yicksburg batteries, had been unable through 
lack of speed to force their way up again past the bat- 
teries and against the strong current of the river, 
and remained below, and became part of Farrag^t's 
squadron. They had continued to patrol the river be- 
tween Yicksburg and Baton Rouge, which latter point 
was held by Greneral Williams. The enemy attacked 
by land, supported by the Arkansas and two gunboats. 
Farragut came up the river with a part of his squadron, 
but before he arrived at Baton Bouge the enemy had 
been repulsed, though Greneral Williams was killed; and 
the Arkansas was attacked and destroyed by Captain 
W. D. Porter in the Essex, who had been directed by 
Davis, before the interruption of his communications 
across the neck at Yicksburg by the withdrawal of 
General Williania, to cruise between Baton Rouge and 
Yicksburg, to look out for the Arkansas, and to attack 
her if she could be reached. Thus the destruction of 
this formidable vessel was the act of one of Davis's 
captains, executing his specific orders. 

Before leaving Cairo Davis shifted his flag to the 
Eastport, a finer and more commodious vessel than 



276 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

the Benton, and much superior to the latter in speedy 
though not so heavily armed. The Eastport was fitted 
as a ram^ and it may be said that the ram in naval war- 
fare was developed on the Mississippi Biver, where the 
narrow waters gave an advantage to vessels of high 
speed in such tactics^ although the real superiority of 
ordnance over the ram had been demonstrated in the 
batdes of Fort Pillow and Memphis. 

FLAOsmp Eastpobt, 
Near Hsuena, September 5, 1802. 

Near Helena, you perceive, not at Helena. I have had 
sach a tune getting down here I owing to the low stage of 
the water in the river* Among the acquisitions growing out 
of these troublous times, to me one of the newest and most 
interesting is a knowledge of some of the peculiarities, the 
most prominent habits, of our respected relative, the Father of 
the Western Waters. He is just now in a very humble stage 
of his fortunes, and the meagre contrast he presents to his 
condition when he was girded to the hips and overflowing in 
May last, when I first took command of the flotilla, is very 
striking. Then there was not a bit of land to be seen, except 
at the high bluffs here and there, nothing but trees. It was 
like the time of the deluge : there was not a resting-place for 
the foot. It was magna componere parviSj like the sides of 
a channel when the tide is up. One might penetrate in a 
boat for up into the woods, or timber^ as they call it here ; 
while now it is only vessels of the smallest draught that can 
ml fearlessly and without danger of interruption from point 
to point. When the Father of Waters shrinks away in this 
manner, and his territory becomes altogether too wide for his 
shrunken proportions, he wastes his weakened force by letting 
it run in a number of small channels. At this time he 
travels with considerable volume and velocity, perhaps, a long 



TICKSBUBG AND THE RAM ARKANSAS 277 

leaoh of lib ooune, and then he will come to a point when he 
begins to spread and diffose and sprawl oat into shallow, diffi- 
cult streams and impassable bars. His last stage of decline, 
on which he is just now entering, is that of ^^ cutting out," it 
is called. In this he is now employed, in improying one of 
the shallow channels at the expense of the others. 

At the very end of the season the river is, on account of 
this ^^ cutting out " process, really better than at the time of 
the falling of the waters ; for then, while the channels have 
deteriorated simultaneously, in the latter case some one of 
them receives a larger flow of water than the rest, and main- 
tains a useful depth. 

We are at the worst stage, and the whole passage from 
Cairo to this place has been replete with anxiety. We got 
on shore the second afternoon, and remained aground till one 
o'dock the next morning, working hard in the ways peculiar 
to the river. One of these ways is, or consists in, getting a 
large, heavy spar on the bottom, at the end of the vessel 
hardest ashore, and in raising the vessel by means of it from 
the bottom, while other steamers, at the same time, drag and 
push her in the way she is to go. This was tried with us, 
but for some time without success ; and it began to be thought 
that she was too heavy to be moved in that way. The river 
steamers are light, — light in their frame, light in their 
upper works, light everywhere. But this vessel is a great 
mass of iron, apparently defying any ordinary effort to 
move her. The struggle lasted so long that at last I made 
up my mind that in the morning I would pack up my valise 
and go on board of one of the other steamers, bidding good-by 
to my JSastporty for which I had waited so long, ai^ from 
which I had expected so much. This would have been, in- 
deed, a heavy disappointment! But I was prepared to go. 
At nine the vessel began to move, and at twelve she swung 
sensibly; at one we were once more at anchor in deep water, 
or ^ no bottom," as the pilots say here when it is over the 



278 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 



measnied length of their lines, — four fathoms. From that 
time to this we have touched repeatedly, and I have had he- 
fore me the constant apprehension of having the EcMport in 
the mud or sand until the next rise of the riyer. 

So for from enjoying my new ship freely and spontane- 
onsly, I enjoyed it as a man enjoys an elegant mansion in the 
city, or a comfortable home like ours in the coontry, which 
he has received notice to qoit. I began to think that I should 
be satisfied if I could get her as far as Memphis, where she 
would be safe, at least, and where I could go on board of one 
of the old gunboats. 

In the meantime it was rather awkward and inconyenient 
to have thirfy-flye hundred prisoners under one's charge, and 
to be every now and then in a helpless condition* But even 
this was not the worst of our misfortunes. Suddenly one of 
our boilers sprang a leak, and put out the fires of the fmv 
naoes. We were obliged to lie at anchor a day to ascertain 
the cause and apply the remedy. The cause was, that, owing 
to the inherent weakness of the vessel (she is an old hull, a 
piiEe, built upon), or to the violence and peculiar direction of 
her striking the bottom, the bottom had begun to rise in the 
middle, under the boilers. The keelson was broken upwards, 
and the whole floor of the vessel disturbed in that place. 
This was reduced by presring it back with a heavy weight of 
iron, — several tons, — and making the necessary repairs on 
the boilers, the bottoms of which had been pressed in by the 
rising of the floor on which they were supported. With all 
these trials, delays, and apprehensions we finally reached 
Helena. But here I am stopped peremptorily. The town is 
in sight only two miles off, but a bar separates us from it 
effectually, so that this evening, finding it impossible to go far- 
ther, I have sent forward the convoy under another gunboat. 

I am in daily expectation of the other vessels of the con* 
voy, and, if I get over the bar in time, shall still go myself to 
Vicksbuig. 



VICESBURG AND THE RAM ARKANSAS 270 

Above Helena, September Sth. On my way down here, I 
received a very long visit from General W. T. Sberman, not 
T. W., oar old compagnon de voyctge to Port Soyal, of 
whom I may say, in a word, that he seems to have ran 
out his career to the extreme end.^ His brother officer of 
the same name, who came to see me in Memphis, and who is 
a major-general and a very distinguished officer, told me that 
Brigadier-General Sherman had gone to the mountains of 
Pennsylvania; that he is an odd person, thought he could not 
get along with volunteers, and, as the army is composed mostly 
of volunteers, he had given it up and retired. I may as well 
mention here that he has published a defense (I have not 
seen it) of his conduct in Port Boyal, in which he has made 
an attack on the navy. This was injudicious. Without 
helping his own cause, he has made enemies uselessly. Be- 
sides, these uncalled-for defenses are blunders. Qui b^ excuse 
e^ accuse. Let us reverse the order of the alphabet and take 
up W. T., the major-general, who has no occasion to write 
explanations. He is a very agreeable person, and I was very 
much gratified with making his acquaintance. Our inters 
course placed us in harmony with each other concerning the 
business of the river, one bank of which, for an indefinite 
distance, is controlled by him, under the orders of General 
Ghrant. He tells me that it is the policy of the government 
at home to hold on here to what they have got, and not to 
undertake any active measures, except against the guerrillas, 
until afiEairs nearer home are brought into a more favorable 
oondition. The fear of the dimate has no doubt a great deal 
to do with this decision. This is the worst month, especially 
as low as Vicksburg, the month of chills and of bad fevers. 

The short remainder of Davis's service in command 
of the Mississippi flotilla may be summed up in a very 
few words. The JSas^port remained at her anchorage 

1 See f ooteoto, p. 196. 



280 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

above Helena^ prevented from moving down by tbe 
low stage of the river, until the 20th of September, 
when Davis was recalled to Cairo, by an order of the 
department, to effect the transfer of the flotilla from 
army to navy controL The worst season, when active 
operations were impossible, was chosen for this busi- 
ness, and at its conclusion Davis was relieved by Rear 
Admiral Porter and recalled to Washington. He had 
received his commission as first chief of the new Bu* 
reau of Navigation in July, while still before Yicks- 
burg; but he had declined to relinquish his command 
at the time, or as long as there was a prospect of a 
renewal of the attack. He yielded now, partly no 
doubt on account of his health, but also to the insist^ 
ence of the department. He had been in constant 
private correspondence with Mr. Fox, and occasionally 
with Mr. Welles, and both had expressed a decided 
wish that he should return to the department. He 
himself says :« There are many reasons for being sati^ 
fied to leave the squadron just now ; one of them is 
that there are reasons for thinking that there will not 
be much, if any, more fighting on the river. I look 
back with satisfaction to the employments and successes 
of the last seventeen months, — the labors in Wash- 
ington; the victory of Port Boyal, in which, from its 
first conception to its final execution, I had so large a 
share; the fight at Fort Pillow; and the capture of 
Memphis. These are much more than my share, taking 
into account the chances of war. There are so many, 
of all those who have sought active service with equally 
as much eagerness as myself, who have failed to take 



YICKSBUBG AND THE BAM ARKANSAS 281 

part in any of the important naval events of the rebel- 
lion through the accident of the time! Besides^ my 
own two fights are the only strictly naval battles of 
the war. 

*^ This life on the river is very lonely. I am glad to 
return." 

In the order detaching him from the command the 
Secretary wrote : ^^ The department selects this period to 
make the transf er^ when operations nearly cease from 
the low stage of the water and the employment else- 
where of the cooperating military force. The zeal, 
ability, and success displayed whilst you have com* 
manded the naval force on the Western waters has 
frequently received the conmiendation of the depart- 
ment and the approval of the country." 

In July, 1862, an act of Congress reorganized the 
navy and created the new grades, which have remained 
pretty much the same to the present day. Before 
this, there had been only three grades of commissioned 
of&cers, — captains, commanders, and lieutenants. There 
had never been, in the navy itself, any real necessity 
for an increase in the number of the lower grades ; the 
titles of two of the newly established g^des had no 
naval significance whatever, and of two more the names 
were used in a perverted sense; but the change was 
acceptable to the service, because it set at rest the 
vexed question of assimilated rank with the of&cers of 
the army, at a time when the army and navy were in 
constant cooperation. Moreover, it established a per- 
manent grade of flag of&cer, which the navy had long 
wished for. Early in October, 1861, the President had 



282 CHABLES HENRY DAVI3 

assigned to the then existing temporary rank of flag 
officer the assimilated rank of major^neral in the 
army; but the newly created g^de of rear admiral 
made the rank of the flag officer permanent, and was 
yery welcome to the service ; and the increase in the 
total number of g^des, together with the forced retire- 
ment of officers after forty-five years of service, held 
out the delusive hope of rapid promotion. 

By the operation of the new law^ Davis became a 
oonmiodore from July 16, 1862, the date of the pas- 
sage of the act ; and, the old law relating to flag rank 
being still in force, he was, during the period of his 
command on the Mississippi, an acting rear 
and no change was made in the form of his flag. 



CHAPTER Xm 



TEDS BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 



Thb Bureau of Navigation^ to the head of which 
Davis was now called^ is one of the principal admin- 
istrative branches of the Navy Department, and owes its 
origin and establishment largely to Davis's own exer^ 
tions. The plan of this bureau was to bring under one 
head all the scientific departments of the navy related 
to hydrography, astronomy, navigation^ and surveying, 
with their correlative details ; to include the ^^ Nautical 
Almanac," the Observatory, and the Naval Academy ; 
the latter not only as an educational institution which 
might properly be classed among the scientific estab- 
lishments of the service, but also because the academy 
had been endowed with an ezcellentiy equipped astro- 
nomical observatory, from which something serious in 
the ^y of scieotifio inveBtigation, and in collaboration 
with the Naval Observatory in Washington, was confi- 
dentiy expected. 

These various branches, except the Naval Academy, 
had been heretofore administered by the Bureau of 
Ordnance, which was designated the Bureau of Ord- 
nance and Hydrography, until the establishment of the 
independent Bureau of Navigation. The Hydrographic 
Office was in one with the Naval Observatory, and. 



284 CHABLES HENEY DAVIS 

under the Bupermtendency of Maory^ the office had 
been engaged almost ezdosiyely in hydrog^phical 
work. Gillisy who succeeded Maury in 1861 as supers 
intendenty had restored astronomy to its legitimate 
ascendency at the Observatory^ and, as far as the hydro- 
graphical branch was concerned, the office was a mere 
depot of charts, most of them of foreign production. 
It was Davis's plan to separate the two branches, and 
to create an independent hydrographic office under 
the Bureau of Navigation. He succeeded in this, and, 
although the law which established the Hydrographic 
Office was not passed until 1866, it passed in the lan«* 
guage in which the original bill had been drawn by 
Davis himself, and the new office was, like the ^^ Nau- 
tical Almanac *' and the Bureau of Navigation, his own 
creation. 

The bureau itself was intended by him to cover only 
the administration of the scientific branches of the 
naval service. But, by the act of the department, it 
was made also to include the Office of Detail. This 
was presumably on account of Davis's familiarity with 
the work of that office through his connection with it 
in 1861. The two branches were in no way allied, and 
iheir association was incongruous; but, passing through 
successive permutations, the bureau has at the present 
time entirely lost the scientifio character which was the 
chief reason of its being, and the name itself has be- 
come a misnomer. The Bureau of Navigation is now 
the office of detail and nothing more. In fact, this 
change began immediately on Admiral Davis's relief in 
1865, and the bureau has never had a scientific chief 



THE BUREAU OP NAVIGATION 285 

since. A book modeled somei^hat on the British ^^ Ad- 
miralty Manual of Scientific Inquiij/' to which much 
eminent talent had contributed, and which was intended 
by Davis as an incentive and guide to officers of the 
navy in the employment of leisure time on foreign 
cruises, was suppressed by a successor, not because of 
any pretended judgment on the merits of the book 
itself or its object, but as an act of personal hostility 
toward its author. The whole history of the Bureau of 
Navigation affords an illustration of the makeshift 
methods, instability of purpose, and caprice, which take 
the place of knowledge, experience, custom, system, and 
a defined poUcy, in naval administration; and Davis's 
connection wiA it exemplifies the futiUty which often 
attends individual effort, no matter how well directed, 
under such a system. 

Davis remained in the Navy Department from No- 
vember, 1862, until April, 1865. Besides his duties 
in the bureau, he was, by request of the board, a mem- 
ber of the Lighthouse Board; he still continued to 
serve on harbor commissions; he served on a board on 
plans and designs for new vessels; as member of a board 
on parole of prisoners ; of a board on steam expansion, 
then before the invention of the compound engine, a 
much-vexed question ; and he was, ex officio, a member 
of the permanent board of bureau chiefs which acted in 
an advisory capacity to the Secretary of the Navy. He 
was also associated with Professors Henry and Bache 
as a member of a permanent commission to which wero 
referred all questions of science and art upon which the 
department might require advice, with power to call in 



286 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

associates to aid in its inyestigations and inquiries. 
This commission was no sinecure^ and was constantly in 
session^ for it was at this time that mechanical and 
scientific ingenuity was beg^inning to be felt in applica* 
tion to naval construction and equipment, and to this 
commission were referred the innumerable plans and 
proposals for new inventions and devices with which 
the government at Washington was flooded* This 
commission is interesting because it led to the establish- 
ment of the National Academy of Sciences^ as will be 
seen by the letters which follow. 

The vote of thanks for the victories of Fort Pillow 
and Memphis was signed by the President on February 
7, 1863, and this act made Davis a rear admiral, his 
commission bearing the same date. The rear admirals 
so far created under the law of July, 1862, were Farra- 
g^t, Goldsborough, Du Pont, Foote, Davis, and Dahl- 
gren, in the order named. Davis subsequently received 
the thanks of his native state in a resolution of the 
General Court of Massachusetts. 

As long as Davis remained at the head of the bureau 
he continued to live alone in Washington, while his 
family remained in Cambridge. He wrote home almost 
every day ; but his letters, like those written in 1861, 
were often too personal for publication. In his com- 
ments on passing events, the personal allusions are ne- 
cessarily suppressed in the following extracts, except in 
some cases where historical interest and the public nature 
of the event itself seems to justify personal comment : — 

November 27, 1862. I am in many instances struck with 
the arbitrary impulse, or caprice, which has so much to do 



THE BUBEAU OP NAVIGATION 287 



with the adminiiitration of the department, and which seems 
to be so T^^ardless of rule or system. This bureau was ex- 
pressly foimded^ or established, for the purpose of taking 
eharge of the academy, together with the observatory, ^^ Nau- 
tical Almanac,'' etc. The department asked the naval com- 
mittees to create the bureau for this purpose. And the 
academy is taken away^ from it, without explanation, after 
the bureau is created. It is fortunate that I don't care for 
these things ; that I feel a real indifference to them, to which 
indifference I school myself every day and night of my life 
by reflection and study,— otherwise I should be rendered 
uncomfortable by these caprices of a power which pays no 
respect to the claims of service. 

But I must confess that no reflection or philosophy can 
guard me from the uneasiness and sense of insecurity to which 
the repeated exercise of this capriciousness gives rise. The 
habitual indulgence of caprice has the same effect as the want 
of principle. 

November 28ih. I hear General McCleUan spoken of by 
some of my associates in Washington differently from what 
we have been accustomed to hear in Cambridge. An army 
officer whom I have always r^arded as his friend, and who 
I believe is so at this moment, said to me yesterday that 
McCleUan is a thorough student of military science and art, 
and intimately acquainted with the history of war, ancient 
and modem ; but is, on account of his very study and inform 
mation, wanting in promptness and decision. Battles have been 
lost and won in so many different ways, and through such a 
variety of accidents, that an ingenious and well-read man, 
when he has made a plan of battle, can discover the means of 
defeating it, and confirm his apprehensions by examples from 
history. ^^McCleUan's very knowledge," said my friend, 
^ disqualifies him for action, for he is deficient in the origiual 
genius which makes the native-bom soldier. This defeat of 
^ It was labsoqaantly xestoxed daring Davis't tenure. 



286 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

associates to aid in its investigations and inquiries. 
This conunission was no sinecure^ and was constantly in 
session, for it was at this time that mechanical and 
scientific ingenuity was beginning to be felt in applica- 
tion to naval construction and equipment, and to this 
commission were referred the innumerable plans and 
proposals for new inventions and devices with which 
the government at Washington was flooded. This 
commission is interesting because it led to the establish- 
ment of the National Academy of Sciences, as will be 
seen by the letters which follow. 

The vote of thanks for the victories of Fort Pillow 
and Memphis was signed by the President on February 
7, 1863, and this act made Davis a rear admiral, his 
commission bearing the same date. The rear admirals 
so far created under the law of July, 1862, were Farra- 
gut, Goldsborough, Du Pont, Foote, Davis, and Dahl- 
gren, in the order named. Davis subsequently received 
the thanks of his native state in a resolution of the 
General C!ourt of Massachusetts. 

As long as Davis remained at the head of the bureau 
he continued to live alone in Washington, while his 
family remained in Cambridge. He wrote home almost 
every day ; but his letters, like those written in 1861, 
were often too personal for publication. In his com- 
ments on passing events, the personal allusions are ne- 
cessarily suppressed in the following extracts, except in 
some cases where historical interest and the public nature 
of the event itself seems to justify personal conmient : — 

November 27, 1862. I am in many instances struck with 
the arbitraiy impulse, or caprice, which has so much to do 



THE BUBEAU OP NAVIGATION 287 



with the adminijstration of the department, and which seems 
to be so regardless of rule or system. This bureau was ex- 
pressly founded^ or established, for the purpose of taking 
eharge of the academy, together with the observatoiy, ^^ Nau- 
tical Almanac/' etc. The department asked the naval com« 
mittees to create the bureau for this purpose. And the 
academy is taken away ^ from it, without explanation, after 
the bureau is created. It is fortunate that I don't care for 
these things ; that I feel a real indifference to them, to which 
indifference I school myself eveiy day and night of my life 
by reflection and study, — otherwise I should be rendered 
uncomfortable by these caprices of a power which pays no 
respect to the claims of service. 

But I must confess that no reflection or philosophy can 
guard me from the uneasiness and sense of insecurity to which 
the repeated exercise of this capriciousness gives rise. The 
habitual indulgence of caprice has the same effect as the want 
of principle. 

November 28th. I hear General McClellan spoken of by 
some of my associates in Washington differently from what 
we have been accustomed to hear in Cambridge. An army 
officer whom I have always r^arded as his friend, and who 
I believe is so at this moment, said to me yesterday that 
McClellan is a thorough student of military science and art, 
and intimately acquainted with the history of war, ancient 
and modem ; but is, on aocoimt of his very study and infor- 
mation, wanting in promptness and decision. Battles have been 
lost and won in so many different ways, and through such a 
variety of accidents, that an ingenious and well-read man, 
when he has made a plan of battle, can discover the means of 
defeating it, and confirm his apprehensions by examples from 
history. '^ McClellan's very knowledge," said my friend, 
^ disqualifies him for action, for he is deficient in the original 
genius which makes the native-bom soldier. This defeat of 
^ It was subseqiiently xestoxed daring Dayis't tenure. 



286 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

associates to aid in its investigations and inquiries. 
This commission was no sinecure^ and was constantly in 
session, for it was at this time that mechanical and 
scientific ingenuity was beg^inning to be felt in applica- 
tion to naval construction and equipment, and to this 
commission were referred the innumerable plans and 
proposals for new inventions and devices with which 
the government at Washington was flooded. This 
commission is interesting because it led to the establish- 
ment of the National Academy of Sciences, as will be 
seen by the letters which follow. 

The vote of thanks for the victories of Fort Pillow 
and Memphis was signed by the President on February 
7, 1863, and this act made Davis a rear admiral, his 
commission bearing the same date. The rear admirals 
so far created under the law of July, 1862, were Farra- 
gut, Goldsborough, Du Pont, Foote, Davis, and Dahl- 
gren, in the order named. Davis subsequently received 
the thanks of his native state in a resolution of the 
General C!ourt of Massachusetts. 

As long as Davis remained at the head of the bureau 
he continued to live alone in Washington, while his 
family remained in Cambridge. He wrote home almost 
every day ; but his letters, like those written in 1861, 
were often too personal for publication. In his com- 
ments on passing events, the personal allusions are ne- 
cessarily suppressed in the following extracts, except in 
some cases where historical interest and the public nature 
of the event itself seems to justify personal comment : — 

November 27, 1862. I am in many instances struck wiih 
the arbitraiy impulse, or caprice, which has so much to do 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 287 



with the adminiiitratioii of the department, and which seems 
to be so regardless of rule or system. This bureau was ex- 
pressly foimded^ or established, for the purpose of taking 
eharge of the academy, together with the observatory, '^ Nau- 
tical Almanac,'' etc. The department asked the naval com« 
mittees to create the bureau for this purpose. And the 
academy is taken away^ from it, without explanation, after 
the bureau is created. It is fortunate that I don't care for 
these things ; that I feel a real indifference to them, to which 
indifference I school myself every day and night of my life 
by reflection and study,— otherwise I should be rendered 
uncomfortable by these caprices of a power which pays no 
respect to the claims of service. 

But I must confess that no reflection or philosophy can 
guard me from the uneasiness and sense of insecurity to which 
the repeated exercise of this capriciousness gives rise. The 
habitual indulgence of caprice has the same effect as the want 
of principle. 

November 28ih. I hear General McCleUan spoken of by 
some of my associates in Washington differently from what 
we have been accustomed to hear in Cambridge. An army 
officer whom I have always regarded as his friend, and who 
I believe is so at this moment, said to me yesterday that 
McCleUan is a thorough student of military science and art, 
and intimately acquainted with the history of war, ancient 
and modem ; but is, on account of his very study and infor- 
mation, wanting in promptness and decision. Battles have been 
lost and won in so many different ways, and through such a 
variety of accidents, that an ingenious and well-read man, 
when he has made a plan of battle, can discover the means of 
defeating it, and confirm his apprehensions by examples from 
history. ^' McClellan's very knowledge," said my friend, 
^ disqualifies him for action, for he is deficient in the origiual 
genius which makes the native-bom soldier. This defeat of 
^ It was sabaeqaently xesiored daring Davis't tenure. 



288 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

action arising from too cnriooB a contemplation of the event 
is more common in military than civil life, owing to the more 
critical nature of the case in the former than in the latter.'* 
Not having any opinion of my own on the subject I am 
obliged to go by the opinions of others. 

November 80th. Last night I went to Bache's, to the 
club, and took Captain Lesoffsky^ with me. Mr. Henry, 
General Meigs, General Casey, Mr. Bache, and one or two 
others are valuable companions ; but this club is not like ours 
at Cambridge. It has its exceptions. 

I was struck with what Captain Lesoffsky said to Bache 
last night about my appearance on the Mississippi. I am sure 
I must have looked sick and pale, and must have shown signs 
of weakness that I was not conscious of. He has spoken 
repeatedly of the change in my appearance. Yet I had no 
idea of gpiving up. I am glad of it I wanted to come home ; 
had no pleasure whatever, on the contrary only pain, in re* 
maining out there. But I saw my duty clearly. 

I have said in one of my preceding notes that I had some- 
thing more to tell you, and the last sentence I just wrote 
reminds me of it in this way, that I have wondered whether, 
if I had been situated as Captain Missroon was in Tork River 
(which I will presently describe to you), I should have come 
up to the mark. The story is this : When the siege of 
Torktown began, Missroon commanded a small detachment 
of good-sized and heavy-«rmed vessels in Tork River. He 
was solicited, urged, and ordered, by Greneral McClellan, the 
President, and the department to run by the batteries at 
Torktown and Gloucester Point. He could not be persuaded 
to do it. He said that there were fifty-odd guns mounted on 
the two sides, and it was impossible to get the vessels by. 
When Torktown was taken, it was found that there were only 
four thirty-two-pounder guns commanding the channeL If 
Captain Missroon had gone by, the siege of Torktown and 

1 BoaaiaQ nayal attach^. 



THE BUREAU OP NAVIGATION 289 

its delay and expense would have been saved ; the enemy's 
left flank would liave been turned, and he would have been 
thrown into confusion, and driven either into a flight or a 
surrender ; Richmond would have been captured ; and five 
hundred miUions of dollars would have been spared to the 
country. This is the way I hear the case stated by Mr. Fox 
and others. Missroon got sick a second time (he had done 
the same thing when in Du Font's squadron), and was re- 
lieved and went home. To make the matter worse, much, 
very much worse, batteries of far greater strength had been 
encountered and passed by Du Font's and Farragut's squad- 
rons in wooden ships. 

If Captain Missroon had passed these batteries, — and it 
now appears that he might have done so with slight if any 
h>ss, — he would have been made an admiral. He enjoyed 
a high reputation at the beginning of the war, very high, 
especially as a fighting man. He had earned it in part by 
earnest and clever talking on that subject. A great deal was 
expected from him ; his opinions were quoted as authority ; 
and the department, having confidence in his judgment and 
activity, had placed him in a situation of danger and respon- 
sibility, and told him to go ahead. Just before he left Port 
Boyal to come home, Du Font, who had sailed a cruise with 
him in 1837-40 or thereabouts, and had always remained a 
correspondent and particular friend of his, said to me, " Have 
toe been mistaken in this gentleman so many years? " To 
which I answered, '^ Don't say t£?6, Frank ; " for I had sailed 
with him previous to this, in 1884-86, when we were moss- 
mates, and had not formed so high an estimate of his nature 
as Du Font had done. He had been less cautious with me, 
and had no doubt improved before he became Du Font's 
messmate. 

February 2, 1868. How much have I told you, if any- 
thing, about a Permanent Commission or Academy? Baehe, 
Henry, and myself are very busy on this topic, and have 



290 CHABLES HENBT DAVIS 

made a move wliich will no doubt result in the Permanent 
Commission. The Academy is more doubtful. 

February 20tfa. Inclosed is a copy of the order creating 
the Permanent Conmiission. But the Academy is to be 
introduced into Congress by Mr. Wilson.^ The whole plan 
of it was arranged last night between Mr. Wilson, Agassiz, 
Bache, and Ben [Plrofessor Peirce]. It was my plan ampli- 
fied and improved. 

February 24ih. I told you a word about the Academy in 
one of my notes, but only a word, being in a hurry. The 
appointment of a Permanent Commission was suggested to me 
by one of my letters, which quoted a passage from the British 
War Office which spoke of a Select Commission; and when 
I mentioned it to Bache and Heniy they acquiesced, and the 
latter presented the plan to the department. Tou saw, by 
the copy of the Secretary's letter to me, that our plan was 
accepted without any change whatever. We had hardly got 
through this tiling before the idea flashed upon my mind that 
the whole plan, -so long entertained, of the Academy could be 
successfully carried out if an act of incorporation were boldly 
asked for in the name of some of the leading men of science 
from different parts of the country. This I submitted to 
Bache and Henry with details, but the view was not imme- 
diately adopted. The nert step was Agassiz coming to 
Washington as one of the regents of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution. Then followed a visit to Agassiz by Senator Wilson, 
who had nominated him to iihe regency. At this meeting, 
which took place at Bache's, Ben, Bache, and Dr. Gould 
were present; and it was there that the mode of proceeding 
was devised. Mr. Wilson introduced the bill last Saturday. 

February 27th. I was just called into the Secretary's room 

to consult about Stevens's battery, and you wiU be amused to 

hear that it is now proposed to carry into execution the plan 

of the much-abused report of the oonmussion of which I was 

^ Heniy Wilson, leuftor from MasBAohnsetta. 



THE BUREAU OP NAVIGATION 291 

chainnan, — a report that was laughed at at the time in the 
papers and by the department. Thus the whirligig of time 
brings aboat his revenges. 

I am looking for Agassiz to oome here and be introduced 
to Admiral Foote, and then to go with me to the Capitol to 
see Mr. Grimes about the Academy bill. I go to the P^resi« 
dent's once more, and I hope for the last time, this morning. 

The dinner at Baehe's was particularly pleasant, eyen for 
the chiefs entertainments, which never fail to be agreeable. 
Judge Loring, Mr. Hosf ord, and Mr. Hilgard were there. 

I have thought a good deal of what yon say in your last 
note of the vanity which leads us to pursue with so much 
ardor those honors and advantages which we are to enjoy for 
so short a time. Poor Woodhull's sudden death ; the impres- 
sion left upon my mind by seeing him placed in the tomb, by 
thinking of the tale, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, 
now told; by looking after this existence of his, already 
become evanescent and shadowy ; the meditations of serious 
hours and of advancing age, all oome to enforce your reflection 
and give it unusual weight. On the other hand, we are not 
thelessto exert ourselves in our spheres of duty,but the more 
even, on account of the transient nature of our lives and our 
possessions. We can always, such hypocrites are we to our 
own consciences, find some excuses for our own pursuits, while 
we admit the truth of the general principle or sentiment they 
violate. In my own case I excuse myself for caring so much 
for my promotion because promotion brings with it repose. I 
feel as if I had reachedabedwhich,^longing, I hadbeensick 
for." Besides this, it is the exponent of success, and success 
implies a certain merit, according to Baxter: *^ For there is 
most of the heart where there is most of the will ; and tiiere 
is most of the will where there is most endeavor ; and where 
there is most endeavor there is generally most success ; so 
that endeavor must prove the truth of our desire, and snooess 
wiU generally prove the sincerity of our endeavor.'' 



286 CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

associates to aid in its investigations and inquiries. 
This commission was no sinecure^ and was constantly in 
session, for it was at this time that mechanical and 
scientific ingenuity was beginning to be felt in applica- 
tion to naval construction and equipment, and to this 
commission were referred the innumerable plans and 
proposals for new inventions and devices with which 
the government at Washington was flooded. This 
commission is interesting because it led to the establish- 
ment of the National Academy of Sciences, as will be 
seen by the letters which follow. 

The vote of thanks for the victories of Fort Pillow 
and Memphis was signed by the President on February 
7, 1863, and this act made Davis a rear admiral, his 
commission bearing the same date. The rear admirals 
so far created under the law of July, 1862, were Farra* 
gut, Goldsborough, Du Pont, Foote, Davis, and Dahl- 
gren, in the order named. Davis subsequently received 
the thanks of his native state in a resolution of the 
General C!ourt of Massachusetts. 

As long as Davis remained at the head of the bureau 
he continued to live alone in Washington, while his 
family remained in Cambridge. He wrote home almost 
eveiy day ; but his letters, like those written in 1861, 
were often too personal for publication. In his com- 
ments on passing events, the personal allusions are ne- 
cessarily suppressed in the following extracts, except in 
some cases where historical interest and the public nature 
of the event itself seems to justify personal comment : — 

November 27, 1862. I am in many instances struck with 
the arbitraiy impulse, or caprice, which has so much to do 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 287 



with the adminbtration of the department, and which Beems 
to be BO T^;ardle88 of rule or system. This bureau was ex- 
pressly founded^ or established, for the purpose of taking 
eharge of the academy, together with the observatoxy, ^^ Nau- 
tical Almanac," etc. The department asked the naval com- 
mittees to create tibe bureau for this purpose. And the 
academy is taken away^ from it, without explanation, after 
the bureau is created. It is fortunate that I don't care for 
these things ; that I feel a real indifference to them, to which 
indifference I school myself every day and night of my life 
by reflection and study,— otherwise I should be rendered 
uncomfortable by these caprices of a power which pays no 
respect to the claims of service. 

But I must confess that no reflection or philosophy can 
guard me from the uneasiness and sense of insecurity to which 
the repeated exercise of this capriciousness gives rise. The 
habitual indulgence of caprice has the same effect as the want 
of principle. 

November 28th. I hear General McCleUan spoken of by 
some of my associates in Washington differently from what 
we have been accustomed to hear in Cambridge. An army 
officer whom I have always regarded as his friend, and who 
I believe is so at this moment, said to me yesterday that 
McCleUan is a thorough student of military science and art, 
and intimately acquainted with the histoxy of war, ancient 
and modem ; but is, on account of his veiy study and inform 
mation, wanting in promptness and decision. Battles have been 
lost and won in so many different ways, and through such a 
variety of accidents, that an ingenious and well-read man, 
when he has made a plan of battle, can discover the means of 
defeating it, and confirm his apprehensions by examples from 
history. ^^McCleUan's very knowledge," said my friend, 
^disqualifies him for action, for he is deficient in the origiual 
genius which makes the native-bom soldier. This defeat of 
^ It was snbseqiieiiily restored daiing Dayis't tenure. 



294 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

prostrated by sodden and violent attacks of disease, wUcb 
were paroxysmal in their nature and appearance. 

All his life he has been more or less of a valetudinarian, 
though always active both in mind and body. He wasalways 
devoted to some popular and prevailing remedy of the day. 
Hydropathy was, at one time, his pursuit almost. At another 
time his eyes troubled him, and the treatment and care of 
them absorbed his time and thoughts. The Maine Liquor 
Law was also a hobby. It was characteristic of his mind that, 
when his attention was once turned to a thing, he never 
relaxed his zeal or his efforts till ihe object was attained. 
This constancy of purpose, combined with observation, activity, 
and a sincere desire to be useful, assisted by the judgment 
and energies proceeding from good natural abilities suffi- 
ciently well trained, and, above all, strengthened and en- 
lightened by a devout dependence on Grod and the best influ- 
ences of a religious spirit, had carried him through some 
arduous undertakings in the course of his professional life 
before he went to the Mississippi. The earnest convictions 
of his piety manifested themselves in his outward demeanor, 
and never failed to create an affectionate respect and a real 
admiration. They gave an heroic stamp to his character by 
inspiring him with the strong persuasion felt by St. Paul, " I 
can do all things, Gh>d helping me.*' His career in the ser* 
vice has been a very marked one from the begpinning, and 
would have been long remembered, even without the distinc- 
tions of the war. Foote was an affectionate friend, and con- 
stant in his friendship as in all other things. The intimacy 
we formed in the frigate United States was never broken or 
interrupted. However long our separations might be, we 
resumed our old connection and relation as soon as we came 
together again. And he was not only a faithful but a wise 
and judicious friend, — a true friend in the highest and best 
meaning of the much-«bused word; speaking frankly and 
boldly, without reserve and without disguise, when there was 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 296 

a necessity for it, and sparing no pains to serre a friend when 
an opportunity offered. He understood and acknowledged 
the duties of friendship, and performed them, as he did all 
other duties, conscientiously. No man surpassed him in zeal 
and earnest devotion to the great cause in which we are 
engaged. His life and its best efforts belonged to his coun- 
try, and all the ends he aimed at were so patriotic, religious, 
and true that he entirely fulfilled the in jimction of Wolsey 
to Cromwell. His death will be a sad loss to the country at 
this time, and will be so regarded. 

I look back with the deepest interest and feeling to the 
time when we sat apart from the other midshipmen, in the 
steerage of the United States^ and studied for our examina- 
tions, without book, teacher, or guide in the most important 
part of our studies, practical seamanship, and the working of 
ships. We made a manuscript book of these subjects. I 
often reflect upon this passage of our lives with pleasure, 
because it showed intellect, energy, and a well-directed am- 
bition. The examinations were then brand-new. I should 
regard a similar sight to-day with interest and pleasure. 
Forty years of friendship I How long a period I And yet 
the separation comes before the allotted time of life has ex- 
pired, while there still might be many more years of employ- 
ment without unduly lengthening the span. Grod's will be 
done. Foote is happy in his death, (rod grant to me, also, 
in his infinite mercy, an honorable and timely death. 

June 26th. I send you to-day an ^^ Intelligencer *' contain- 
ing the Secretary's letter to John Bodgers, on the occasion 
of his recent engagement, the most remarkable of the war. 
Nothing not immediately or nearly concerning myself could 
have given me so much real satisfaction and pleasure. He is 
the most accomplished and the best-instructed officer in the 
navy ; and no one, in the navy or out of it, officer or citizen, 
surpasses him, or has ever surpassed him, in courage, loyalty, 
seal, promptness, energy, activity, fidelity, and, lastly, in skill. 



296 GHAKLES HENRY DAVIS 

He has not been well treated by the department-; his senrieeB, 
and the cheerfulness and modesty with which he performed 
them, have not been appreciated and properly estimated. I 
thank God that his patience and unselfishness have been 
rewarded at last. It is curions to see how the whirligpig of 
Time brings about his revenges. It was onoe, or rather, to 
borrow a phrase from Mr. Chose, ^ the cry went onoe " on 
Dahlgren and his eleven-inch, and at that time John Rodgers 
was at a discoimt When Hodman's fifteen-inch gun was 
introduced, Dahlgren pronounced against it, and refused to 
bear, or rather demanded to be openly acquitted of, any 
responsibility concerning it Fox decided against his dictum, 
and himself, on his own authority and charge, took the matter 
out of the hands of the Bureau of Ordnance. The recent 
attack on Fort Sumter was a disappointment to Fox, on ac- 
count of guns and monitors both. But this fight of Bodgers's, 
one of the most remarkable in naval history, destined to be a 
great exemplar and to be constantly cited forever, completely 
justified Fox's bold determination in behalf of guns and ves- 
sels ; and Bodgers, who was the chief actor in the drama, is 
now the hero and pet, and the former magnus Apollo is cast 
down from his pedestaL 

WEXHAWKEZr, POBT BOTAL, 

June 25, 186a 

Deab Davis, — Tou will have heard of my good luck in 
meeting the Atlanta^ which her officers and the Southern 
Confederacy were confident could take not only two monitors, 
but, if need were, half a dozen of them. She came down in 
the gray of the morning, and, as the Isendega gunboat had 
been reconnoitring us for two days, I had no idea that the 
Atlanta would try her strength against the Ilahant and 
Weehawken^ for I knew that they were cognizant of two 
monitors. She came down boldly, and with prudent fore- 
thought had provided two vessels to tow Downes and myself 
to Savannah ; and, as beauty loves to smile on valor, they had 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 297 

arranged, we bear, for a grand ball to bonor our coming. 
^^L'honune pro})08e et Dieu dispoee/' We were actually 
surprised at tbeir coming, but soon sbifted that emotion onto 
tbeir sboulders. Tbe fif teen-incb, wbicb was fired first, struck 
tbe Atlanta obliquely upon the centre of tbe casemate, and, 
witbout penetrating in its own proper person, sent in iron 
fragments and about two barrelf uls of wooden splinters, 
wounding a good many people and prostrating about forty or 
fifty men. Tbey say tbe wbde file of marines fell fiat as 
pancakes from tbe concussion. Lieutenant Barbot (formerly 
of our service) fell on tbe deck and remained some minutes « 
unconscious, simply from tbe concussion. He said tbat tbe 
stunning sensation was in tbe pit of tbe stomacb, wbere, I 
believe, some of tbe ancients placed tbe seat of tbe souL 

Tbis fifteen-incb sbot was fired singly, and I saw it strike ; 
so tbe effect was, I know, due to tbis and not to tbe eleven. 
Afterwards tbe guns were fired in pairs, and I cannot sepa- 
rate tbem. Tbis sbot took out all tbeir wisb to figbt, and tbe 
pilot said tbe bell was rung to go abead, to run back, wben a 
second sbot struck tbe top of tbe pilot-bouse, blocked up tbe 
scuttle, and prevented access to it. Tbey ran aground and 
boisted tbe wbite fiag. We fired two sbots after tbe wbite 
flag was up, for we bad not anticipated sucb quick results ; 
and from smoke in tbe air, or from some peculiar reflection 
from tbe water upon it, I tbougbt it was a blue flag. So tbe 
AtlarUa was taken witb tbree sbots. 

Downes was exceedingly mortified tbat be did not get a 
sbot. He intended to run close alongside and deliver bis fire 
yardarm and yardarm. I, less ambitious and more modest, 
was willing to take sucb opening as I could get. Downes 
now declares be will fire next time at two miles' distance. 
Tbe Confederate officers said tbat tbey bad notbing so strong 
as tbe Atlanta. Webb told me, or some one else, I forget 
wbicb, tbat sucb guns as tbose of tbe Atianta bad been sbot 
ibrougb nine incbes of iron, and tben ten feet into a solid 



298 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS * 

bank of earth behind the iron. Am we were nntonched, we 
cannot say anything about the power of her guns. . . • 

Affectionately yours, 

John Bodgebb. 

June 27tL The news of poor Foote's death is in the papers 
this morning. It makes me sad, though hourly looked for. 
His perfect repose, at this time, has in it something to be 
enyied. Some capable person ought to sum up his services 
and make a sketch of his works and character, while the 
, memory of his death ^be still green.** How secure he is, 
now and henceforward, against the evils still threatening us 
who remain behind I ** Nothing can touch him further," 
while we are yet trembling for the future. I shall al?rays 
think with great pleasure of that last Saturday evening I 
passed with him, which was in some measure the renewal of 
our youthful associations. This was but one month ago, — 
^ a littie month, — within a month I " 

The Secretary is preparing a general order for the occasion. 
His early connection with Foote gives a tender and almost 
romantic interest to this event, so solemn and important on 
many other accounts. You perceive that my mind runs upon 
this subject to the exclusion of all others. I should take a 
melancholy pleasure in attending his funeral^ 

July 8th. Ijp the midst of this exciting news [Grettys- 
burg], it seems strange that one should think or speak of 
anything but the country and the happy prospects of return- 
ing peace. Much remains, to be sure, to be done ; but we 
may well thank God for this most happy promise. So pas- 
sionately is my heart devoted to the restoration of the Union, 
and the preservation of the national integrity, that all else 
seems insignificant. It is an occasion for heartfelt joy that 
we are not to be humiliated by any further demonstrations of 

^ The wish was f ulflllecL Admiral Davis lepietented the Navy DeparU 
ment in Foote's fimenl at New Haven. 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 299 

the soom and malignant hate of the aristooracy of England, 
which will be civil enough if we are to be onnelTes mighty 
and to be feared. The captoze of the AUanta^ the defeat of 
Lee, the foil of Vicksburg, the undoubted surrender of Port 
Hudson in a few dajrs, and the very serious trouble in NorUi 
Carolina looking to the separation of that State from the 
Confederacy and its return to the Unioni are most important 
facts bearing upon the present condition and future state of 
the nation. 

I haye neyer in my life experienced a more solenm sense of 
thankfulness to God, and of dependence on his infinite good- 
ness, than now. But one week ago we were in a state of 
doubt and apprehension as to the safety of the great cities, 
including Washington; and to-day we are <:^iti^wg of the 
cessation of the war. There is much yet to be done, espe- 
cially by General Meade here and by Generals Grant and 
Bosecrans in the West. The opportunity for suppressing 
the rebellion is not lost upon the government, which is, I 
believe, straining every nerve to secure the total rout and 
dispersion of Lee's army. 

July 16th. To-day is Commencement Day, and Cambridge 
is as cheerful and gay as usual on this day of festivity. I 
should like to be there, but it is not worth while to wish. 
To-day there is enough to fill the mind with the New York 
riots, the escape of Lee's army, and the good news from the 
West. The last are very promising, and look very much as if 
the rebel government would have to go back to Montgomery. 
Bichmond is projected so far beyond the States which do now, 
in reality, constitute the Confederacy, that, vrith our troops 
in possession of Tennessee, it would seem impossible for the 
traitors to stay there. I am sorry for Lee's escape, but not 
surprised; we had no proof of Greneral Meade's military 
capacity ; and the position of the army, to which its late suc- 
cess at Gettysburg was owing, was taken up before General 
Meade came upon the ground. 



800 CHARLES HENBY DAVIS 

There are two reflections wliioh arise : one is, that it will be 
much better in the end that the rebels should have employed 
all their means, opportunities, resources, and time before the 
war closes, that they may be too well and thoroughly chastised 
to undertake it again ; the other is, that the question of negro 
slavery ought to be further advanced towards its ultimate 
and only settlement — emancipation — before we lay down 
our own arms, or stop the military organization of the ne- 
groes. 

August IdtL I passed an hour yesterday morning read- 
ing the correspondence between the United States and Great 
Britain during the summer of 1862, which has brought more 
home to me than ever the position assumed toward us in this 
war by the higher classes of Englishmen. 

The passionate desire to see our nationality destroyed, and 
.our prosperity ruined, presents a spectacle of human frailty 
not exceeded by anything related by Gribbon. The envy, 
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness from which this desire 
springs manifest and comprise as great a corruption of the 
heart as the profligacy and debauchery of the worst period of 
the decline of the Roman Empire. A member stands up in 
the British House of Commons and boasts of his infamy. He 
boasts that he is a pirate, and endeavors to justify himself by 
a lie, and both the boast and the falsehood contribute to his 
honor. Such is the state of the English mind toward this 
country that now hatred of America and of Americans is a 
transmitted instinct, bom with the well-bom Englishman, de- 
veloped in the nursery, and matured in the drawing-room and 
school-room. What an all but incredible consequence and 
proof of this hatred is the same Englishman's becoming an 
enthusiastic friend and advocate of slavery, who for fifty 
years has made it his chief merit that he has done so much 
for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade I 

But hate is a bad counselor, as they cannot fail, one day, 
to discover. 



THE BUBEAU OP NAVIGATION 301 

Daring the autumn of 1863 the admiral made a tour 
of the Great Lakes, with other members of the board, 
on business connected with the Lighthouse Establish- 
ment, in which Mrs. Davis accompanied him, and hi^ 
letters were interrupted. 

October 18th. A curious fact was mentioned at the meet- 
ing of the Lighthouse Board, — that the British Admiralty 
was in the habit of sending their charts, as published, to the 
Lighthouse Board and Coast Survey, until the automn of 
'61, when this practice was stopped, and that it had just been 
resumed again. This is interesting as showing the conviction 
of the English people that onr nationality was irrevocably 
lost in the automn of '61, and that this conviction was in 
some degree weakened by the events of the past sununer. 

The English nation has stadied to make itself hateful in 
tiie eyes of other nations, and has succeeded to a charm. I 
imagine there is not a people in the world that will not rejoice 
when it comes their turn to experience the misfortunes that 
sooner or later visit every country. 

December 18th. I put in this envelope some verses I 
should read aloud to you if you were by, and a description of 
Mr. Lincoln, quite cleverly done, though evidently written as 
much for effect as for truth's sake. Don't show them to 

, or to any of the President's dislikers. You may be 

assured that in future times Lincoln will be regarded as the 
very greatest of all the blessings bestowed on this country in 
these sad times, — as God-sent, appointed by Ood, like the 
prophets of old, to do his work, to save the nation and re- 
generate the people, to remove the curse of slavery, and to set 
another example of the profound wisdom that lies hidden and 
unrevealed in simplicity, truthfulness, uprightness before Grod, 
humility, conscientiousness, even when unaccompanied with 
great talents or great learning. In his and similar examples 
consists the political life of the nation and its safety, — the 
safety of our republican institutions. 



802 CHARLES HENBT DAVIS 

April 4, 1864. Poor Preble ^ has oommitted another mis- 
take, which the Secretary seems only too ready to torn against 
him to justify his former seTeritjr. You may have seen that 
he met the Florida at Funchal, Madeira, and though this 
was a neutral port, and he was legally justified in not attack- 
ing her, he would have been applauded to the echo if he had 
made the capture, and it would have been a most remarkable 
piece of good luck for an old-fashioned sloop, and would have 
secured him a vote of thanks, a step up on the ladder of pro- 
motion, and a distinguished reputation. 

There might have been some little diplomatic powwow 
about it, but the rebels are not recognised, and, if they were, 
are not in a situation to demand redress or exact it. Our 
government would have apologised, and Preble would have 
shifted his pennant to the Florida. As it is, he has sailed, 
like Sir Andrew, into the north of the department's opinion, 
where he will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman's beard, 
unless he redeems himself by some laudable attempt either of 
valor or.poUcy. . • • He admits or states, with the most 
perfect unconsciottsness of his error, that his men were so 
eager to engage the Florida that he drew the shot from his 
guns to prevent their firing into her, confessing that he did 
not possess the perfect command of his own ship, and obedi- 
ence and subordination of his men ; and that he disabled his 
vessel in the presence of the enemy, who might have given 
him a broadside with impunity, and been out of the reach of 
his gpms before he could have shotted them. This was one 
of those very rare occasions which that fickle goddess, For- 
tune, throws in an individual's way in the mere wantonness 
of prodigality, and to have missed improving it will be to 
Pteble a perpetual regret, which no future success can wholly 
obliterate. And the worst feature of the case is, that this 
Florida is the same vessel (then the OreUi) that cansed him 
so much affliction at Mobile. His blood hath been too cold 
^ Gimmsader George H. jjheble, of the sloop of war /aiiieffowfi. 



THE BUREAU OP NAVIGATION 80S 

and temperate, — inapt to stir at these indignities. The 
piratical character of the Florida is now so well established, 
and so generally admitted, that the probability is that there 
would not have been even a remonstrance ; and if his own 
goyemment had thought it necessary to find fault with him, 
in order to show its respect for the law of nations, its censure 
would have been a mere loye-pat. I am grieved to the heart 
for this mistake. If Preble had been endowed with a little 
atom of that spirit which led Nelson to tack without orders 
at St. Vincent, and to refuse to see the admiral's signal at 
Copenhagen, he would have gone it blind, would have paid up 
old scores, and rid the ocean of a pirate. 

May 7th. Yesterday, while I was in Fox's office talking 
on business, the President came in, and seeing that he inter- 
rupted us he said: ^' I have nothing to say, I did not come in 
for any object ; I was once at a oounty town, during the ses- 
sion of the court, where there were a great many lawyers 
present, and a stranger, — a countryman, — surprised at such 
a crowd, asked what it meant, and if all these lawyers had 
business there. * No,' was the answer ; * they have not come 
to court because they have any business here, but because 
they haye no business anywhere else.' This," said the 
President, ^^ is my case. I have nothing to do, and have been 
over to Stanton's, and have now come here. The fact is, I 
cannot keep still, I am so anxious to hear something about 
the army." He then asked Fox for news. We are told this 
morning that there was fighting all day Wednesday, Thurs- 
day, and on Friday morning, since which there has been no 
reliable information. There are many rumors, but none to 
be trusted, and our state of mind is the most anxious pos- 
sible. 

May 8th. The day is a remarkably fine one — an antici- 
pation of summer, with the heat tempered by a pleasant wind 
westerly. Throughout the war the days of the g^atest care 
and anxiety, and of the most important events, have been Sun- 



804 CHAELES HENBY DAVIS 

days. To-day is added to the list We are in the deepest 
suspense to know the issue of the hat three or four days* 
fighting. There is something in the morning papers, and 
there are rumors — when is war without its rumors I But 
there is nothing definite. The impressions and reports are 
favorable ; the government, however, is very reticent Under 
the circumstances this silence would be considered unfavor^ 
ably. There are two facts well known to the public which 
prevent this apprehension on this occasion. One is, that the 
President knows just as little as any one about Grrant*s move- 
ments, except as the reports come in ; and as these reports 
are telegraphic the newspaper correspondents may know 
them as well and as soon as the authorities. The other is 
that the line of communication is wholly and purposely 
severed. The President said the other day in Fox's room 
that Grant had got on the wall and kicked away the ladder 
— like Cortez in Mexico, he has burnt his ships. The want 
of information, therefore, proceeds from a want of communi- 
cation, and is shared by the President in common with others. 
Anunen is an old schoolmate and intimate friend of Grant, 
and has been very recentiy, if he is not now, with him by 
special invitation ; and Ammen told me that Grrant had said 
that other generals have sought Lee, but that he should give 
Lee the trouble of looking after him. 

There are certain features of the war which I dwell upon 
with satisfaction, not as relating to the result of the battle 
now raging, but as affecting the final issue. One of these 
features is the manner in which Lee has been met. He has 
been hitherto fought with the advantages of position, intrench- 
ments, and defense all on his side ; and by general confes- 
sedly his inferiors, whence arises the impression that he has 
a better army and does not make mistakes. And yet never 
did a general or his advisers commit a greater blunder than 
Lee in going into Pennsylvania, — so military men said at 
the time, — and his army was entirely overthrown by ours. 



THE BUBEAU OF NAVIGATION 805 



the advantage of position being on onr side, while onr del en- 
sive stand was seleoted only forty-eight hours before the 
battle, and was not, like his at Frederioksbnrg, deliberately 
prepared against assault by months of labor spent on f ortifir 
cations. Thus it appears that our army is better than his, or 
at least as good, and that he can commit the grossest blunders. 
I say the grossest, for eyery success in Pennsylyania would 
have carried him farther from his resources, and more and 
more into the midst of the thick population of a State that 
never knew any condition but that of civil liberty, that ab- 
horred him and tiie slaves black and white whom he led, and 
would have risen against him en m(M8e ; and would have com- 
pelled him, if he continued to advance, to leave in his rear 
fortified places. And finally, he would have subjected him- 
self, in his retreat, to the fate of Charles after his unsuccess- 
ful invasion of France, and it would have gone hard with us 
but some one should have arisen who would better the instruc- 
tion afforded by that lesson in history. And all this while 
the chief and only real business of Lee was the defense of 
the capital of the usurped government, and the prudent hus- 
bandry of his resources both of material and men, the reduc- 
tion of which he was beginniog to feel sorely. 

Another feature of the existing state of the war is the con- 
dition of the rebels in respect to their men and materiaL 
There is a simple proposition, which is stated in a variety of 
forms, according to its particular application, and which 
enters, in one of these forms, into the common proverbs of 
the language, and that is, ^ People cannot have their cake 
and e<st it." The rebel government at Biohmond has called 
out, by the force of conscription, all the men between sixteen 
and sixty. This is eating their cake, and the cake is gone — 
there are no more to call out. • • • The third general feature 
of the war is the sacred constancy of the Northern mind and 
heart to the Union, and to the cause of liberty, civil and per^ 
sonaL I think that I, and those who like me would rather 



806 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

die than give np these holy trusts, truly represent the North, 
and not the traitors, not the indifferent who are willing to 
cany fardels, nor the mean and tame natures who, for the 
respect of a long life, 

** would bear the whips and sooniB of time, 
The oppreaaor's wrong, the pxood man's oontomelj.'' 

The time will come when the croakers, and the timid, and 
the laggards, of all of whom there are, thank God but a few, 
will be ashamed of themselves. 

There is another general feature of the war which bears 
upon the present as well as the future. That is the concen- 
tration of the forces on both sides. Not only have the rebels 
exhausted their population by conscription, but they have 
brought together the greater part of their means from every 
quarter, and have shown the determination of the desperate 
gambler to stake their political life upon a cast, and stand 
the hazard of the die. Accordingly, they say that this will 
be the last summer's campaign, whichever side is victorious. 
This is the truth with regard to them, but not to ourselves. 
Their resources will be utterly exhausted in the event of fail- 
ure ; ours are scarcely less abundant than at the beginning 
of the war, while our experience enables us to make better 
use of them. This feature gives special importance to the 
present campaign. We are concentrating our forces like 
them, and we are also assailing them in several directions. 
Hooker and Sigel, it is understood, are ascending the Shenan- 
doah Valley: Butler, after making a feint at West Point, 
has gone up the James, and landed at City Point with an 
army which report fixes at sixly thousand men. Burnside 
has joined Orant with thirty or thirty-five thousand fresh 
troops. Great issues are preparing, with this difference, 
however. If they fail they are mined. If we fail we shall 
be *' delayed, but nothing altered; what we were we are; 
more straining on for plucking back.'* 



THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION 807 

May ISUl I am muoh tried in my efforts to preserve my 
balance while the exciting news is coming in from the army. 
The news of the morning is most cheering, and you will be 
glad to know that more troops are constantly going to rein- 
force Grrant. It would seem hardly possible that this kind 
of fighting should continue much longer. It is said that we 
have forty thousand men hors de combat, through death, 
wounds, prisoners, stragglers, and missing, and the rebels as 
many more. Lee's wounded are said to be neglected. What 
scenes of suffering and distress the blessed light of day is now 
witnessing I 

May 16th. I feel as yon say you do about these brilliant 
successes of the war — that the decisive battle is still to be 
fought Lee's whole force must cease to exist as an organized 
army before we begin to see the end of the war. Still every- 
thing is in the highest degree promising and encouraging. 
The spirit of the army is magnificent, equal to anything; 
their achievements brilliant; their numbers undiminished, 
the places of the killed and wounded having been supplied 
by fresh troops ; and their gains in guns, colors, prisoners, 
and ground, substantial and cheering. Lee's army, on the 
contrary, must be dispirited by losses, want of supplies, and 
still more by failures. In the several greatest of the battles 
of the last eight days, Lee has been the attacking party, 
meaning to drive us back, and he has been signally repulsed, 
and been forced to retire. Everything looks well and hope- 
ful for us. We have already accomplished great things, and 
we have destroyed the prestige, the Teryommie of Lee and his 
army. And yet again I feel with you that, until that army 
is utterly routed, broken up, and scattered never to come 
together again in its present shape ; until Bichmond is taken 
and lies at our mercy, and until all military organization on 
the part of the rebels ceases to exist in Virginia, I shall not 
be satisfied. 

There is one special reason for being anxious for the 



808 CHABLES HENRT DAVIS 

immediate defeat of Lee's army, — a complete Waterloo defeat 
of horse, foot, and dragoons, artillery, camp equipage, and 
sapplies, — and that is, the fear of foreign interrention* The 
news of the successes of our arms up to Saturday (yesterday) 
morning went to Europe in the steamer of that day. It will 
suggest the idea that foreign aid must be given to the rebels 
at once or it will be too late, and it will excite the frantic 
efforts of their friends ; and, again, it will give a very serious 
aspect to the position assumed by one or two of the European 
states towards us in this rebellion, — the open aid and sym- 
pathy giyen by England, and her piracy; the sympathy and 
aid pf Napoleon, and his Mexican project. It makes me 
shudder to think of the future in this light. The extreme 
folly of the upper classes in England is deeply to be deplored 
in the name of humanity, speaking humanly. Napoleon's 
downfall must sooner or later have turned upon some such 
act of baseness and folly combined, as this Mexican scheme, 
as his uncle's did on the invasion of Russia. He has staked 
the fortunes of his house against those of the young republic, 
and he must stand the hazard of the die. But I find it most 
painful to dwell upon the possible troubles ahead, except in 
the light of God's providence. ^From seeming evil, still 
enduing good." 

June 8th. I had a note from Bache this morning, vrritten 
in a trembling hand, but saying nothing of himself.^ If you 
are correct in your information, — and it seems to come from 
the best source, — his sickness is one of the very saddest things 
in the world, the breaking up of so many ties and associa- 
tions and connections. To me it is particularly distressing. 
Besides our old coast survey bond, which has never been 
wholly severed, we are joint members of the Lighthouse Board, 
of the Permanent Commission, of the Commission on Boston 
Harbor, of the Board for Experiments on Steam Expansion, of 

1 Mr. Baohe's health had failed. He died in Februaxy, 1867, after a 
lingering illness. 



THS BUREAU OF NAVIGATION 809 

tbat for oorreetiiig the ehanges in Sandy Hook, and probably 
of the AdviBoryConnoiltothe New Jersey Commuaion, and ci 
others whioh I do not now reoalL Here are six eonneotions 
whioh are all of ihem of a nature to constitate a brotherhood 
or good-f eUowship of labor. In these respects how much I 
owe to him, and bow much I shall miss him from all the 
aooostomed walks of life I 

June 17tL Yesterday there came to see me a Captain 
Bichardson (acting yolnnteer lieutenant), who has been on * 
the Mississippi all the war, beginning with Footers time and 
ending with the Bed Biver Expedition. He has just resigned, 
and is traveling for pleasure. We fought over the battles 
of Fort Pillow and Memphis again, and I was quite interested 
by his mode of speaking of them. He thinks that on both 
occasions the enemy might have had the victory if he had 
been bold enough to have used his force properly. At Fort 
Pillow be sunk one of the ironclads and disabled another ; 
and if one of the most powerful rams had run into the Ber^ 
tofij she would have sunk and the day would have been theirs. 
But the Benton^ s armament terrified them. So at Memphis^ 
they ought to have made the attack, not waited for it, and 
the result would have been in their favor, in consequence of 
the great power of their rams and the weakness of our ves- 
sels. He is, no doubt, correct But how different would have 
been my fate if the rebel fleet had been victorious and ours 
had been destroyed I The one thing for which I was most 
thankful was the rebels not perceiving what their proper 
course was at Fort Pillow. They should have run by instead 
of engaging me,^ and gone up to Cairo, St. Louis, and Louis* 
viUe, and laid those cities under contribution, or, at leasti 
have terrified them immensely. They had entirely the ad- 
vantage of me in speed. I often pat up a silent prayer of 

^ It will be leealled that, in diseutBuig this possibilitj wi the time, the 
sdminJ tlioiight that the enemy'i fleet would not have been able to pan 
the batteries at laland No. la 



810 CHASLES HEKBY DAVIS 

thankfulness to Ood for haYing delivered us from that dan- 
ger. Suppose that this had happened the day after Foote left 
the fleet, — this thought makes me modest, thoroughly so; 
for, whatever I did do or might have done, I could not have 
controlled this thought if it sprung up in the mind of the 
enemy ; and it certainly would have caused immense trouble, 
and would, in all probability, have resulted in great personal 
injury to me. 

During the summer of 1864 the admiral was ill with 
a return of the Mississippi malarial poisonings and 
passed some time at home in Cambridge. He was also 
absent from Washington during the autumn on busi- 
ness connected with the lighthouse Board, and as chair- 
man of a commission to select a site for a Western navy 
yard. In the winter his family moved to Washings 
ton, and the home in Cambridge was finally broken up. 
In April, 1865, he served, in the funeral of the Presir 
dent, on the Guard of Honor, that guard of veteran 
commanders of the army and navy which kept unceas- 
ing watch at the head of the bier in the funeral pro- 
gress through the heart of the nation. 

During Admiral Davis's service in the Navy Depart- 
ment there was one subject in which he was deeply 
interested, and in which he was indirectly concerned, 
which has been very lightly touched upon in the fore- 
going pages; that is, Du Font's difference with the 
department, and his relief from the command of the 
South Atlantic Squadron. Davis was, of course, Du 
Font's friend throughout the whole of this difficulty 
and afterwards. When it came to a question of Du 
Font's reliefi there could be no doubt that Foote was 



THE BUKEAU OF NAVIGATION 811 

the best man for the place ; but Foote died on the eve 
of sailing from New York, and there can be no ques- 
tion that the choice should then have fallen on Davis. 
The influences which led to Dahlgren's appointment 
will not be rehearsed here^ as they concerned Davis 
personaUy in no way whatever. Davis had offered his 
services ; he had the full confidence of the department, 
especially of Mr. Fox, with whom he maintained 
throughout the war the most intimate relations; he 
had been over the whole question of the attack on 
Charleston with both Mr. Welles and Mr. Fox, and had 
formed his plans, and he expected to go. He wrote to 
his wife with this expectation. Neither did he himseU, 
nor any one else at that time, consider the duties of a 
chief of bureau as paramount in importance to a com- 
mand afloat. On this subject he wrote to Du Pont a 
year later : ^^ I should go further than you and say that 
in no case is the position of an of&cer at the depart- 
ment, that of chief of bureau included, so important as 
a command afloat. A navy of&cer's ^ pride of place ' 
is on the quarterdeck. The business of most bureaus 
can be performed, with a little special training, as well 
by a citizen as a navy of&cer. But it is only the latter, 
and the best specimen of the latter, wha makes a good 
commandei^in-chief afloat.'' 

In reviewing Admiral Davis's services during the 
civil war, there is one quality upon which it is pardon- 
able to insist, — his total eff acement of self in a passion- 
ate devotion to the cause of the country in the preserva- 
tion of the Union. He possessed this trait in common 
with nearly all the great leaders which the civil war 



812 CHABLES HENBY DAYIB 

prodaced, and he possessed it in a very marked degree. 
I£ his letters have not shown this, they have shown 
nothing ; bnt his actions showed it still more. It is 
conspicuous in his relations with Du Pont and Foote. 
Toward the latter, in fact, this devotion took the form 
of a self -sacrifice so complete that his services have 
been misunderstood and underestimated to the present 
day. But there was, on the part of all the great naval 
officers of. the war period, a mutual cordiality, an inti- 
macy, a bond of brotherhood and fellowship in a com- 
mon cause, — and that the greatest cause in which an 
officer could possibly be called upon to serve, — which 
placed them entirely above and beyond petty or per- 
sonal jealousy. Davis actually planned the battle of 
Port Boyal, which was fought out on his plan ; but he 
gave the whole credit, and justly, to the commander-in- 
chief, who had the same right to command the brain of 
his staff as he had to use the brawn and sinew of the 
seamen who served the ffuns. Davis's wisdom and 

the combined squadrons from certam disaster under the 
impregnable batteries of Yicksburg. They differed, 
but '^ not unkindly.'' There could be no thought of 
mistrust between the men, as the following letter at- 
tests: — 

Umitsd Statu Flagship Habtvobd, 
West Gulf Squadron, 

MOBQA Bat, October 1, 1864. 

Dbab Davis, — Your kind letter indosing that of my 
old friend. Dr. Townsend, was duly received, and for which 
please to aooept my grateful thanks. My great desire has 



THE BUREAU OP NAVIGATION 818 

always been to serve my country by hunting tbe enemy, and^ 
next to that, my great ambition has been to do all in my 
power to elevate the navy, as far as my limited powers would 
permit, and my self-love suggested that as the best means of 
obtaining a high stand among my brother officers. Every 
man, I think, desires to obtain the goal for which he started, 
— the head of his profession, that is, the highest rank. The 
letters which I daily receive, from both the old and young of 
the navy, all tend to show me that I have to thank God that 
I have done it without doing injustice to any one. It has 
been done in the simple discharge of my duty to the best of 
my abilities, and it has pleased God to grant me success. 
You, Du Pont, Porter, and some few others have, like myself, 
been humble instruments to attain the great end, — to crush 
out the rebellion. Gt>d grant that others may appear, for 
we can say with the good book, ^ The field is large, but the 
laborers are few." 

Please to present my kind regards to Mrs. Davis. I will 
take great pleasure in sending your kind letter to Mrs. F. as 
the best mode of conveying your sentiments. 

Very truly your friend, 

D. G. Fabbagut. 

P. S. I have to be careful of my head. This blockade 
duty, with eighty vessels, nearly 1000 miles of coast, etc., etc., 
has been a terrible pull upon my brain. Yours, 

D. G. R 

If Admiral Davis remained at the Navy Department 
during the last two years of the war, it was through 
the force of circumstances over which he had no con- 
trol, and not through any effort or seeking of his own. 
He had not sought relief from the command on the 
Mississippi; on the contrary, he had expected to re- 
mam. He ^^ saw his duty/' and sought only employ- 



814 CHABLES HENEY DAVIS 

ment in which he could be of the greatest service to 
the country. The arduous service on the river killed 
Foote, and broke down Davis's health. In fact, both of 
these of&cers were too old for such exposure, and Davis 
died from the results of that service as surely as Foote 
did, though not so soon. After his return from the 
Mississippi, there was but one opportunity for active 
service, and that went to a younger man. But it is 
highly probable that he remained in Washington be- 
cause he was an extremely useful man in the depart- 
ment at that particular time. In our system, or rather 
want of system, of naval administration, the personal 
character of those in authority is a most telling factor. 
Good men will make a bad system work somehow, by 
the force of their own individuality. This has been 

Navy Department, and never so conspicuously as during 
the four years of the civil war, under the administra- 
tion of Mr. Fox; and it was probably the intimacy 
with the latter, and the harmony and earnestness vnth 
which the two worked together, which kept Davis in 
Washington. 



CHAPTER XIV ^ 

THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAQUAT 

At the close of the war, Admiral Davis relinqiiished 
the Buiean of Navigation in order to assume the super- 
intendency of the Naval Observatory, made vacant by 
the death of Gillis. This of&ce was, by the admiral's 
own arrangement, subordinate in rank to the one he 
vacated ; but it carried him back to the field of scien- 
tific usefulness, where his taste and inclination reaUy 
lay, and his previous experience at the head of the 
Almanac qualified him preeminently for the place* He 
served as superintendent two years. In 1866, and in 
accordance with a resolution of the Senate, he pre- 
pared a general and complete review of all surveys 
hitherto made on the possible routes for inter-oceanic 
railways and canals across the American isthmus, which 
was printed as a public document for the use of the 
surveying and exploring expeditions then just pro- 
jected. This volume is still the standard authority for 
the earlier surveys, and has been used by recent expe- 
ditions. In this year he also served as a member of 
the board of admirals, of which Farragut was the chair- 
man, convened for the purpose of reviewing the indi- 

1 Tliii ohapter is rewritten from tlie artiole prepared bj the author 
for the Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Seieneee. 



316 CHASLES HENBY DAVIS 

Tidual services of naval officers during the civil war^ 
and making recommendations for promotion and re- 
ward. The labors of this board were an invidious and 
thantleflfl task, requiring the greatest tact and discrimi- 
nation, and, as may be inferred^ its results led to heart- 
burnings and jealousies which survived for many years; 
but the duties were faithfully perf ormed, and, although 
the results were not always satisfactory to individuals, 
the integrity of the board itself was never impugned. 
The board had to deal with delicate questions, involving 
personal and individual claims, preferences, and com- 
parisons, and on the whole it did its work exceedingly 
well. The officers composing the board were the high- 
est in rank in the navy, and its decisions were thus 
placed beyond the reach of cavU or suspicion. But 
Admiral Davis was still a flag officer in activity ; and 
early in 1867 he was again called upon to hoist his flag, 
and appointed commander-in-chief of the Brazil station. 
He sailed from Boston in his flagship, the Guerri^e, a 
fine new steam frigate, and relieved Bear Admiral Go- 
don, in command of the station at Bio de Janeiro, in 
July, 1867. 

One of Admiral Davis's earliest acts on the station 
was to land in force, and in cooperation with several of 
the foreign naval powers represented at Montevideo, 
for the protection of American interests threatened in 
the revolution which culminated in the assassination of 
Yemancio Mores. It is not necessary and would be 
tedious to enter into the intricacies of South American 
political complications and upheavals, except in so far 
as they concern the admiral himself, but it must be said 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 817 

that on the east coast of South America in 1867^ the 
same political disturbances prevailed which have char- 
acterized the Spanish-American republics since tiieir 
independence^ and mtii which Admiral Davis had been 
made familiar by previous experiences on the west coast. 
The Argentine Republic had just emerged from a series 
of struggles, lasting through the Rosas wars, and until 
the consolidation of the Confederation. Brazil, a stable 
empire, which had been up to that time singularly free 
from the internal disturbances which marked tiie his- 
tory of her neighbors, was allied with the Argentine 
Republic and Uruguay against the Republic of Para- 
g^y in a war of conquest and extermination ; while 
Uruguay, or the Banda Oriental as it is called, was torn 
by contending factions using murder and riot as a means 
toward political ascendency. In the midst of these 
agitations American commerce and enterprise, reviving 
after the civil war, were seeking a foothold in South 
America, and American interests had to be protected. 

The so-called Republic of Paraguay, which fought 
sbgle handed against the powerful triple alliance, was 
ruled by Francisco Solano Lopez, tiie third in regular 
succession of the absolute dictators or tyrants who had 
governed the country since its foundation as an inde- 
pendent state. When Paraguay declared her independ- 
ence of Spain in 1811, her remoteness from the sea and 
the occupation of the Spanish forces in the attempt to 
quell simultaneous insurrections in the more accessible 
colonies caused her act to be ignored by the mother 
country. Paraguay became independent without a 
struggle or the effusion of blood. A congress held at 



318 CHABLES HENBY DAYIS 

Asoncioxii in 1814^ named the famous Dr. Francia dic- 
tator for three years, and at the end of this period his 
nomination was confirmed for life. Very little is known 
of the actual condition of Paraguay in the reign of 
Erancia, because he pursued a policy of complete seclu- 
sion, and excluded all foreigners from the country. 
Stories were circulated imputing to him the utmost 
severity and crueltyi and he has generally been viewed 
as a gloomy and malignant despot, but the case rests 
on rather slender evidence. Carlyle has celebrated 
Francia in a famous essay. For years the country 
remained as isolated as the heart of Thibet, and on the 
' death of Francia in 1840, after a short period of an- 
archy, the dictatorship was assumed by Carlos Antonio 
Lopez. He was more liberal to foreigners than Francia 
had been. A tax was, however, levied on all vessels 
navigating the Paraguay River. Lopez took the title 
of president, and established a constitution, by the con-, 
ditions of which the congress could only be convened 
by the act of the president, who, in ' case of death or 
disability, was to be succeeded by the vice-president 
whom he had the power of appointing ; so that Lopez 
had only to name his son vice-president to make the 
succession secure in his own family. In 1855 the 
United States steamer Wateirmtchy while surveying in 
the Paraguay River, had been fired into from a^ shore 
battery and one man killed, so the United States sent a 
naval expedition, with a commissioner, to demand and 
enforce reparation. In 1859 the commissioner of the 
United States concluded a treaty with Paraguay, and 
from that time forward a United States nunister con- 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 819 

tinaed to reside in Asuncion. Francisco Solano Lopez 
was educated at Paris^ and being secure in the succes- 
sion to the rulership of his country he received a mili- 
tary trainings and imbibed rather ambitious ideas in the 
France of the second empire. He succeeded his father^ 
Carlos Antonio, in 1862, and was even more liberal 
than the latter, and virtually opened the country to 
commerce, but maintained a tax on vessels navigating 
the Paraguay. This tax was a sore point with Brazil 
The Paraguay Biver was the highway to her south- 
western provinces, and its free navigation an important 
question. Moreover Lopez had become aggressive. 
He had Napoleonic ideas of conquest and military 
dominion, so that a conflict between the two countries 
was inevitable. War broke out in 1864 and dragged 
on for six years, the Paraguayans fighting with great 
spirit against overwhelming odds, and the allies slowly 
forcing them back by tiie mere weight of numbers from 
one stronghold to another along the river course, and 
Paraguay remained as hermetically sealed to the out- 
side world by the operations of the war as it had been 
in Francia's time, for the river is the only approach to 
the country. Meanwhile the American minister con- 
tinued to reside at Asuncion, being appointed solely 
for political reasons, long after every other foreign re- 
presentative, diplomatic and consular, had withdrawn. 

Such was tiie condition of affairs in the Biver Plate 
when Admiral Davis took command on tiie station. 
To keep open communication with the American minis- 
ter in Paraguay was one of the duties which devolved 
upon him. 



820 CHABLES HENBY DAYIS 

The wax on the part of the allies degenerated into a 
personal war against Lopez^ who was denounced as a 
miscreant whom it had become a virtue to destroy. 
Stories of his barbarity and cruelty were rife in Bio de 
Janeiro and Buenos Aires, but only one side of the 
case has ever been heard, as Lopez had no friends be- 
yond the confines of his own dominions. The country 
was a military camp. Every male capable of bearing 
arms was enrolled, and most of the females were with 
the army. The towns and villages were deserted, in- 
dustry, except so far as it related to military supplies, 
was suspended, the camp was the capital, and the dicta- 
tor conmumder-in^. This condition was brought 
about, not by any arbitrary act of Lopez himself, but 
by the pressure of the invasion. Even had he been 
the constitutional president of a free republic the situa- 
tion would have been the same, for the whole people 
^as inarms in defense of its homes against foreign 
invasion. From this point of view at least the Parar 
gpiayan cause was just. 

The American minister had written to Washington 
in the early part of the war in terms of the most ful- 
some flattery of Lopez, but unfortunately the minister 
himself was beginning to get into trouble on both 
sides. He was accused by both parties to the war of 
using his diplomatic privileges to further his private 
interests, and whatever the truth of these accusations 
may be, in this case at least both sides were heard. 
The allies accused him of carrying on a profitable trade 
in arms and supplies, which were passed unexamined 
through the Brazilian blockading squadron as the per- 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 821 

fional property of the American minister, and tiie Para- 
guayans accused him of selling military information to 
their enemies, and later he was accused by Lopez of 
abetting a conspiracy which he discovered, or pretended 
to discover, against his life, and of harboring the con* 
spirators and refugees from military justice in the lega- 
tion of the United States. Whatever the actual merits 
of the case may have been, a simple recital of the cir* 
cumstances has been given in order to make clear a 
situation of affairs in which Admiral Davis now became 
involved, and with which he was called upon to deal in 
his own way, and for llie same reason a somewhat pro- 
lix account of llie actual condition of the Republic of 
Paraguay, and the circumstances attending the war of 
extermination waged by the triple alliance against Lopez, 
has been presented. 

Li the summer (the winter of ^e southern hemi- 
sphere) of 1868 the Wasp had been sent by the admi- 
ral to Asuncion to communicate with the United States 
minister. The latter sent by her commander a message 
to the admiral asking for the immediate return of the 
vessel, as he felt that his situation was precarious, and 
that he might be obliged to leave at short notice ; in 
short, he wanted a vessel of war to fall bac^ upon. So 
upon the return of the Wasp to Montevideo the admi- 
ral dispatched her at once again to Asuncion, and gave 
her commander orders to place his vessel at the minis- 
ter's disposal. The TTo^ was an iron paddle-wheel 
steamer of Ekiglish bmld, which had been captured on 
the blockade during die civil war and taken into the 
service. She carried a light 1)attery of brass guns, and 



322 CHAELES HENEY DAVIS 

was well adapted for river service. Her captain was 
Commander (the late Bear Admiral) William A. Elirk- 
land; an officer who was specially qualified for service 
in the River Plate, where he had passed much of his 
active career, for he spoke Spanish and tiie dialects of 
the river like a native, was thoroughly familiar with the 
habits and traits of the people, understood the native 
character, and was a skillful diplomatist as well as a gal- 
lant officer. Indeed, so well was the value of these 
special qualities understood at Washington that he had 
been kept almost continuously on duty in the Biver 
Plate. He knew Lopez better, probably, than any 
one in South America. 

When the Wasp reached Asuncion the minister was, 
or thought he was, Uving in dafly terror of his life. 
The legation was surrounded by Lopez's police, and no 
member of it dared stir abroad. No overt act had been 
committed, but it was undoubtedly the intention of 
Lopez to arrest any member of the household, except 
the minister himself, who ventured beyond the pre- 
cincts of the legation. Captain Earkland believed that 
the minister's fears were greatly exaggerated, but there 
is no doubt that he was thoroughly frightened, and had ^ 
but one wish, to get on board the Wctyp, and out of 
Lopez's reach at the earliest possible moment. Arrange- 
ments were therefore made for the immediate embarka- 
tion of himself and his household. The party left the 
legation headed by the minister himself carrying the 
American flag, but no sooner were they on the street 
than two of the party, refugees from Lopez's service 
whom the minister had sheltered, were forcibly arrested. 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 828 

Even then it is probable that had the minister resisted 
and protested, the arrest would not have taken place, 
but instead he made a precipitate retreat on board the 
Wasp. No sooner was he on board than he insisted 
on sailing at once* It was in vain that Captain Elirk- 
land represented that having undertaken to extend lus 
protection to these men it was shameful to leave with- 
out them, and that a demand from himself would pro- 
cure their instant delivery. A frightened man does 
not listen to reason, and Captain Kirkland, against his 
own judgment, but acting in strict conformity with his 
orders, weighed anchor and proceeded down the river. 

When the Wasp reached Buenos Aires the admiral 
was at Bio de Janeiro. There were no telegraphs in 
those days, but the news of this outrage upon an 
American diplomatist reached him in due course of 
post, perhaps three weeks after the event. The admi- 
ral never had the slightest doubt as to the course which 
it was proper to pursue. The business which had 
brought him to Bio de Janeiro was directly connected 
with the condition of affairs in Paraguay. The minis- 
ter to Paraguay had been recalled by orders from Wash- 
ington, which however he had not received at the date 
of his leaving the country ; his successor was appointed 
and was now within a few days' sail of Bio de Janeiro 
on board of the American mail steamer, and the admi- 
ral had been directed to meet him at Bio, offer him a 
safe conduct to lus station, and confer with him as to 
the situation of affairs in the Biver Plate. The new 
minister was a distinguished officer of the civil war, and 
acted in entire harmony and accord with the admiral 



BSA CHARLES HENRY DAVIS 

throughout the entiie affair. He took passage on 
board the Guerrih'e for Montevideo^ where the admi- 
ral had already directed the ships of his squadron to 
assemble in preparation for a move up the river. As 
Boon as the Ouenri^e reached Montevideo the admiral 
shifted his flag to the Wcup, and with the newly ap- 
pointed minister on board, and with as many ships of 
the squadron as could be floated over the bar at Martin 
Garcia, he proceeded up the river. The vessels en- 
gaged in this demonstration were the Wcisp, 3 guns 
(flag), tiie PawneSy 11 guns, the Kanaas^ 8 guns, the 
Quinnebaug, 6 g^uns, and the Shamokin, 10 g^s. 

It is about a week's navigation from Buenos Aires to 
Asuncion, for after ships enter the narrow reaches of 
the Parana and Paraguay they must anchor at night, 
and the strong current of the river retards progress by 
day. It was in midsummer (December), 1868, and at 
that season of the year the climate of the upper river is 
something infernal. Along the right bank stretches 
for hundreds of miles the Gran Ghaco, a noisome wil- 
derness of jungle and morass, into which no human 
being can enter and live, and in which only alligators 
can dwell. A Brazilian army which entered this swamp 
for a march of about twenty miles to flank Asuncion 
died like rotten sheep. From this bank great segments 
of tangled forest growth break away with the force of 
the stream, and float down with the current in the form 
of floating islands, some of them of enormous extent, 
so that at times, to a vessel ascending the stream, the 
whole course ahead seems to be land. These gather 
across the ship's hawse at night, and must be cleared 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 326 

away with great labor in the morning. All day a ver- 
tical sun beats down upon the breathless mirror of the 
riveri and in the furnace heat and damp of the swamps 
swarms of noxious insects breed, and these, with the 
heat and the foul miaamaB of the Chaco, make the nights 
hideous ; and as a variety to these torments a tornado 
will occasionaUy sweep across the river from the south, 
»dtb, .»pi^^ M £»., « fifty d.gr.« bl 
an instant. Necessarily the health of the squadron 
Buffered. Many men were on the aick-Iirt from fever, 
and also from mosquito bites, and one man on board 
the Wasp, driven mad by these pests, actually com- 
mitted suicide by drowning. 

In the meantime Asuncion had fallen and was occu- 
pied by the allies. Lopez's last stronghold on the 
river was at a point called Angostura, about twenty 
miles below Asuncion, where he had erected a battery 
which commanded a bend of the river, and when the 
Wasp arrived the Brazilian ironclads were bombarding 
this position, coming up into action in the morning and 
dropping down out of range at night. To those of&cers 
who had taken the hard knocks of the civil war at home 
the Brazilian methods of warfare seemed simply puerile. 
The admiral had in his squadron guns enough to have 
knocked this battery down in half an hour if American 
methods had to be resorted to; but he had left the 
squadron some miles below the lower Brazilian lines, 
and came on alone in the Wasp, as he did not choose 
to make a show of his force until it became necessary 
to use it. The newly appointed minister to Paraguay 
was also on board the Wasp, but it is needless to say 



826 CHABLES HENRY DAVIS 

that this fact was not proclaimed^ nor was it known by 
either the Brazilians or Paraguayans until the affair 
was concluded by the navy. On the morning after the 
arrival of the Wasp, which had anchored just above 
the battery and out of the line of fire, the Brazilian 
fleet came up into action^ the leading ship carrying the 
American flag at the fore, a proceeding which called 
forth a peremptory challenge from Admiral Davis, as 
while this flag flew the fort did not fire, and the Bra- 
zilian ships were enabled to take position under its pro- 
tection. It is needless to say that this experiment was 
not repeated. 

Immediately upon his arrival in front of Angostura, 
the admiral had notified the Parasruavan commander 
tiiat he ^ed to commnnicatTS: the President. 
Lopez was with the army, some miles in the interior, 
but a meeting-place was arranged at an intermediate 
point, to which the admiral sent his fleet captain and 
Captain Eirkland. The conference, so far as these 
two were concerned, was Umited to a peremptory de- 
mand for the immediate surrender of the two persons 
arrested from imder the protection of the American 
minister. Lopez would not have been a South Ameri- 
can potentate if he could have yielded without talk, 
and the men were actually at a place some distance in 
the interior; but they were delivered on board the 
Wasp the same night, and a suitable apology was 
made, which was the utmost reparation that could be 
extorted in the wretched plight of Paraguay. The 
newly appointed minister then landed and presented 
his credentials, the Wasp sailed the next morning, and 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 827 

mthin a week the whole squadron was in Montevideo 
again. 

The whole of this incident might have been dismissed 
in a single paragraph, except that it was made a sub- 
ject of cong^ressional investigation, and led to a per- 
sonal attack on Admiral Davis instigated by the ex- 
minister to Paraguay himself who was an unworthy 
member of a powerful political family. The case was 
one of the minor scandals of that scandalous political 
period. The animus of the attack was not far to seek, 
it being only a noisy trick to divert public notice from 
the conduct of others besides the naval of&cers, for 
Admiral Grodon, Admiral Davis's predecessor on the 
station, was also involved in this attack. The absurdity 
of the investigation and its methods in Godon's case 
may be judged from the fact tiiat he was censured for 
having acted in obedience to the explicit orders of the 
Navy Department. So in Davis's case also, the investi- 
gation proceeded although his conduct received the 
approval of the Navy Department and the President. 
In point of fact the whole affair had been conducted 
by the admiral with spirit and firmness, and the object 
of the expedition had been immediately accomplished, 
without a resort to force, which would have involved 
the country in hostilities against an exhausted and 
sinking state in the heart of South America, for a con- 
temptible cause. Of course the principal charge against 
Admiral Davis was that he had employed persuasion 
where he should have employed force; but that his 
enemies had to g^ far afield for causes of offense 
may be understood by the fact that his being a man of 



828 CHABLES HENBT DAVIS 

refinement and cnltiYation was serionsly cited against 
him in the committee. The committee itself had pre- 
judged the caae^ and was inimioal to the admiial and 
to the navy as an institution. Admizal Davis's testi- 
mony with all the evidence which bore id his favor was 
suppressed in a printed copy of the report which was 
widely circulated by his enemies, and the committee 
even declined to examine witnesses on his side. The 
findings virtually censured him because he was a gen- 
tleman and not a truculent blackguard, but the report 
was never brought up in the House, and the whole 
question, having fulfilled the purpose for which it was 
intended, was allowed to subside. 

Admiral Davis's side of this story has never yet been 
told ; but, besides the printed report of the congres- 
sional committee, a so-called history of Paraguay was 
published by the ex-minister, which was written for no 
other ostensible purpose than to perpetuate the slander. 
The two refugees, whom Admiral Davis had rescued 
from what they conceived to be deadly peril, joined 
the hue and cry against him, and allied themselves with 
their former master, toward whom they certainly had 
littie cause to entertain a sentiment of gratitude. They 
were both men of more than doubtful character,— 
one an American adventurer, and tiie other a British 
subject. They had both been in Lopez's service, and 
were accoMd by him of conHpiring <ig>unst his life. 
They took refuge in the American legation, and the 
minister conferred upon them some sort of nominal 
appointment as attach^, which, considering their situa- 
tion as refugees, was at least an injudicious thing to 



THE BRAZIL STATION AND PARAGUAY 829 

do* Admiral Davis had never credited the stories of 
Lopez's barbarity; He had the most reliable informar 
tion of the actual condition of Paraguay during the 
*war from Captain Eirkland's repeated voyages up the 
river in the Wcup^ and he had better evidence to judge 
by than any man in South America. Moreover, he was 
a man of clear mind and sound judgment, and did not 
form his opinions from gossip. Notwithstanding many 
dismal predictions that the men would be murdered 
before they could be rescued, Admiral Davis was quite 
confident that he would find them in good health ; and 
the event proved that he was right. They pretended 
that they had been tortured, by a process which they 
described to the committee, and which must have left 
indelible physical traces ; but their persons, when they 
were received on board the Wasp^ bore not the slightr 
est evidence of violence. They were not even ema- 
ciated, though there was a decided scarcity of provisions 
in Paraguay, and some of the native soldiers were mere 
skeletons. Before the committee finished its work Par- 
aguay was overrun by the allies, Lopez himself was 
killed in the last precipitate retreat of the remnants of 
his army, and the country was a Brazilian province. 

A recital of the unsavory details of this investigation 
has not been an agreeable task ; but the attack caused 
Admiral Davis some mortification at the end of an 
honorable career of f oriy-five years in the navy ; and 
the story of his life would not be complete without an 
exposure of facts which have never before been made 
public. It is safe to say that his reputation suffered 
nothing, either in or out of the navy, from this perse- 



880 CHABLES HENBY DAVIS 

cution. As one of his contemporaries wrote: ^^The 
affair was^ in truths a conspicuous instance of the 
soundness and reasonableness of judgment, the con- 
scientious patriotism, and the high sense of professional 
responsibiUly, which always distinguished him." 



CHAPTER XV 



OONOLUSION 



Thb cruise in South America^ the stoiy of which 
has jost been related, was the last event of Admiral 
Davis's career as a naval officer at sea. He returned 
to the United States in June, 1869 ; and he had now 
reached the age when, under the ordinary operation of 
the law, he would have retired, but the vote of thanks 
extended his period on the active list for ten years. 
He passed the summer of 1869, on an extended leave 
of absence, with his family in the woods of Maine ; 
and it is worthy of notice that this was the first period 
of actual rest and recreation which he had ever en- 
joyed in his whole professional life, or at least since he 
was a very young man. From the time when he and 
Foote sat apart in the steerage of the United StateSy 
workins: for the examination and writine their book on 
».n^, t. a.e d., ^ U lai/d.™ bi, p«. 
only a few hours before his death, he was almost never 
idle. His career offers a contrast in this req>ect to the 
common experience of naval officers of his day ; for in 
his early life, unless an officer found employment for 
himself, there were generally long periods of forced 
inactivity. His employments changed, from time to 
time, from the active life at sea to study and the pur- 



882 CHASLES HENBY DAVIS 

suits of science ; but there was really nothing incon- 
sistent in the seeming contrasts of his career. In this 
respect^ at least, he was a striking contrast to others 
of his contemporaries in the navy who devoted their 
lives exclusively to science. 

During his absence in Brazil, the University of Har- 
vard had conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of 
Laws, a rare honor to a naval officer, and in the autumn 
of 1869 he again became a member of the Lighthouse 
Board and resided in Washington. 

Li 1870 Admiral Davis was appointed to command 
the naval station at Norfolk, and spent three years at 
this post. They were uneventful years, and to himself 
and his family a period of social isolation. Southern 
society had not yet recovered from the shock of the 
war ; and although there were several of the admiral's 
former friends and old brother officers still resident ip. 
Norfolk, they did not come forward, and in fact the war 
was too recent an event, and the wounds which it left 
too fresh, to make a residence in a Southern city agree* 
able to a Northern man. The official duties of his 
station, his books, family, and domestic interests, and 
occasional visits to New England in the summer months, 
filled the time until 1874, when he was again ap- 
pointed Superintendent of the Naval Observatory, and 
returned to that duty in time to take part as Chairman 
of the Transit of Venus Commission in the preparations 
for the observations of that year. 

. At this time a second and revised edition of his work 
on ^'InterOceanic Railways and Canals " was published^ 
and he was frequently constdted on matters relating to 



CONCLUSION 883 

harbor improyements. The journals and memoranda 
of the voyage of the Arctic dificovery-ship Polaris^ 
together ^th Captain Hall's journals of his other expe- 
ditions to the polar seas^ had been purchased by the 
government, and, in accordance mth a resolution of the 
Senate, were intrusted to Admiral Davis to edit.^ He 
threw into this work the best energy of the last years 
of his life, and as a preparation for it he made an 
exhaustive study of the whole subject of polar explora- 
tion from the times of Frobisher and Barentz. His inter- 
est in this work became absorbing. Assisted by Professor 
Joseph Nourse, who published the second volume of the 
^< Narrative " ^ after the admiral's death, he labored in- 
dustriously on this book throughout the summer of 
1876. This occupation, and his duties as Superintendent 
of the Observatory, as Chairman of the Transit of Venus 
Commission, and in connection with the Observatory 
and naval exhibit at the Centennial Exposition in Phila- 
delphia, kept him closely confined, and his usual sum- 
mer vacation was curtailed. The summer was an 
exceedingly hot and unhealthy one, and in the autumn, 
after serving on a board with Admirals Porter and 
Rowan to establish the site of a naval station at Port 
Royal, he was again seized with an attack of his old 
Mississippi complaint, — malarial poisoning. His gen- 
eral health declined rapidly during l^e winter, but he 

1 Narrative of (he North Polar Expedition U. S. Ship Polaris^ Captain 
Charles Francis Hall. By Bear Admiral C. H. Davis, U. S. N. Wash- 
ington : GrOTemment Printing Offioe. 1876. 

' Narrative of the Second Arctic Expedition made 5y Charles F. HaUj 
eto. By Professor J. E. Nonrse, U. S. N. Washington : Groyemment 
Printing OfOoe. 1879. 



884 CHABLES HENEY DAVIS 

worked faithfully on the proofs of the Polaris nana- 
tive^ and on the general correspondence of his office^ 
until the day before his death, which occurred at the 
Naval Observatory in Washington on February 18, 1877. 
He was buried at Cambridge, within sight of the 
towers of the University ; and a stained-glass window in 
the Memorial Hall looks out upon the scenes in which 
he walked familiarly, and commemorates the fact that 
he was the oldest representative of the University, and 
the senior in rank, who served during the civil war.' 

The extracts from his letters, written during the civil 
war, which have appeared in the foregoing pages, have 
been sufficient to throw a strong light on Admiral 
Davis's personal character and motives, brought out as 
tiiey were by the stirring evente and emotions of the 
times in which they were written. To these evidences 
of his character may be added some quotations from 
his contemporaries and associates : — 

Notwithstanding the active and prominent life which Admi- 
ral Davis led, and his energy and dash as a naval commander, 
his tastes, especially in his later years, were much more those 

^ The inBcriptioii on this window, which wu written by hia friend, I^o- 
feasor G. M. Lane, is : — 



imiffo a in • GABOu • ninEaaE - datib • vrmt • kay • 

BBIIJ • BT • PAOD • ABTIBUS • PBBSTAimB • KATUB - B0T • A • I> • 
ZVn • X • VBB - A • MDOOOm • KOBTUUB - A • D • Xn • KAI. • 
KABT • A • MDOOGLXZyn • ALUKHUfl • A • MDOOGXXY - IiL • D - A • 
MDCOOLZynZ : PXB - LY • AHNOS - 8IN0UI.ABBM • FIDBM • FBUSBBTZAM • 
VIKTUTBM • AP • BBIFCBLIOB • UTILrCATBM • BT * 8ALUTBX • OOBTCTIiIT : 
HUIO • OB • BBM • BBHB • BAYIBUB • OBBTAK - AXPHSflnflB ' YXBBI8 • 
OBATIAS • BOZT * SBBATUS • FOPTJLUBQX7B • AMKEIOAJffXJB : POBT BOTAIi • 
MBMPBIfl • FOBTPnXOW. 



CONCLUSION 885 

of a refined gentleman of literaiy leisnre than of the active 
man of the world. He was little inclined to mingle in general 
society, bnt rather songht that of the cultivated few whose 
tastes were congenial with his own. His relations with the 
men of science who were his official subordinates were singu- 
larly free from those complaints, jealousies, and distrusts 
which so often arise when military men are placed in charge 
of works of a purely scientific character. This arose from an 
entire absence of every trace of jealousy in his nature, comi- 
bined with an admiration for intellectual superiority in others, 
which led him to concede everything to it. He combined inde- 
pendence of character with Christian courtesy, in a way that 
made him a model to the young men by whom he was sur- 
rounded. No human being who came into his presence was 
too lowly to be addressed with the most kindly courtesy ; and, 
when arrogance or impertinence became insufferable, no respect 
for position or influence gloved the hand that dealt the blow. 

His conversation was forcible, full of good sense, and most 
amusing. He brought to bear on any subject he took up a 
host of argument, illustration, and elucidation ; and he liked 
to brighten up the driest discussion of professional and scien- 
tific matters with his original and vivid turns of expression, 
or with some apt and unhackneyed quotation. He was an 
admirable officer. He had the true spirit of command, — 
strong, dignified, and quiet ; and one that, not needing arti- 
ficial support, was accompanied by a thoroughly friendly 
relation to his officers and men. . . . He was a charming 
companion, abounding to the last in a natural freshness and 
gayety of spirit. ... He was a man of marked courage, and 
had eminently the courage of his convictions. At the same 
time, he was distinguished by perfect courtesy, having but one 
standard of manners, and that a finished and unaffected one, 
for all classes of men. He bore good will to every one, and 
was always in a cordial vein. Meanness, trickery, and malicCi 



886 CHARLES HENST DAVIS 



indeed, roased his bitter contempt. But a salient eharaoter- 
istioof at least his later years was his profoond troBt in hamaii 
nature, his oomplete freedom from cynieism, and his faith in 
the power of right and troth to conquer both the world and 
individoal ccmscience. 

In his official character. Admiral Davis was, first and 
foremost, a naval officer. He belonged to that daas 
which it is the honor of the regolar services of the army 
and navy to produce, and whose reward is generally 
only the fulfillment of a high ideal all its own ; which 
it is often tiie privilege of vulgar malice to flout and con- 
temn, but which is truly the safeguard and bulwark of 
the republic. He was incidentally a student, but he was 
neither a pedant nor a dreamer. He could borrow 
from the past elucidation and example, but he brought 
the labors of the study to aid, not to impede, the demands 
of stirring action in the present. He lived intensely 
and earnestly in the times in which his life was cast. 

Since the close of his active career, the service which 
he loved has passed through a long and almost hopeless 
period of decadence and neglect, untQ it has, by a sud- 
den transition, again attained to a position of respect- 
able importance. A sharp line of demarcation has been 
drawn in men's minds between its former state and its 
present, — between, in the cant phrase of the day, the 
old navy and the new. The service has forgotten its 
past, or at the best remembers it only as a subject for 
curiosity, bearing a very trifling relation to the present. 
Tradition and the trace of continuity are lost. Nor is 
this unnatural. It is due in some measure, perhaps, to 
a shallow and illiberal scheme at Annapolifli, but mainly 



CONCLUSION 887 

to tiie vigor and energy with which the whole navy has 
arisen, from the enforced lethargy of years, to adapt 
itself to new conditions and the engrossing pursuits 
which they demand. But if successive phases of studied 
neglect and contempt and spasmodic popularity have 
left the service untainted, it is because the men who 
compose it to-day, whether they will it so and realize it 
or not, are, in standard and ideal, the logical heirs and 
successors of a preceding generation. 

It would be false to the teachings of his life to close 
a review of Admiral Davis's career in any other spirit 
than that of hopeful expectation and encouragement. 
Unless the signs of the times are wholly illusory the 
navy, released from a degrading gteuggle, against bigoiry 
and caprice, for a mere continued existence, will find its 
acknowledged place as a factor in the march of the 
nation as a world-power, even towards a realization of 
the dream of universal peace. In the even and pro- 
gressive current of usefulness, succeeding not only 
because it is skillful with its took, but because a herit- 
age of earnestness, self-sacrifice, and devotion is its own, 
it may learn to recognize its own past, and the lives of 
the men who made it, not as '^a series of pictures which 
please us more or less according to the attitudes of the 
principal figures and the beauty of the coloring, but as 
the records of living, acting men, governed by exactly 
the same passions and motives as ourselves, and there- 
fore always affording us, if we choose to analyze their 
conduct, the surest and safest rules for our own gov- 
ernment ; for the interval which divides us from any 
period of history is really nothing in this respect." 



INDEX 



AoADBur, National, of Soienees, foun- 
dation of, 286, 289, 290; plana for 
ocganization of , 292. 

Academy, Naval, board of viaitors to. 

Admiralty board, oonatitated, 117 ; ae- 
oret natore of, 184 

Agaanz, Prof eaaor Lovia, mentioned, 
106, 290, 291. 

Algieia, the Ontario at, 66; oarriea 
tribute to, 66. 

Alliance, triple, againat Paraguay, 817. 

Ammen, I^uiiel, commander, men- 
tioned, 178; widi Grant in the Wil- 
demeBi,801 

Angoatnra, the Watp before the bat- 
terie8at,826. 

Annapolia, board of Tiaiton at, 9i. 

Arkansas f Confederate ram, mentioned, 
266, 266 ; enooontered in the Yaaoo 
River, 263 ; mna through the Fed- 
eral fleet at Yiokabnrg, 262, 268; 
attempts to destroy the, 266-268; 
deatroyed, 276. 

Baohe, Profeaaor A. D., aaperintend- 
ent Ooaat Snrvey , 77 ; mentioned, 82- 
84, 86, 98, 118, 121-124, 126, 129, 
142, 148, 168, 168, 167, 176, 198, 
218,286,288,290,291,293; quoted, 
84; member of conference, 118, 124 ; 
laat illneaa of , 806. 

Badeau, Adam, mentioned, 182; 
quoted, 188. 

Bahia, the United States at, 44 

BarbadoB, the United States t^4A. 

Barbot, Alphonae, lieutenant, men- 
tioned, 297. 



Barnard, J. G., major, member of 

oonferenoe, 118, 124; mentioned, 

168. 
Bamea, J. S., lieutenant, mentioned, 

211. 
Banon, Smww^I^ commodore, Gonf ed> 

erate conmiander at Hattaraa Inlet, 

169. 
Barry, W. F., major, mentioned, 166, 

166 ; chief of artillery. Army of the 

Potomac, 166. 
Baton Rouge, defended by the army, 

276; General TKHlliama killed in the 

defense of, 276. 
Beaufort, S. C, abandoned by the Con* 

federatea, 191. 
Beauregard, P. G. T., general, meiH 

tioned, 147, 149, 280. 
Bentonj armored gun Toaw)l, deaerip- 

tion of, 217; flagahip Miaaiaaippi 

flotilla, 218; meaa and qoartera on 

board tiie,284; lowers boats in ao- 

tion to save drowning enemy, 239. 
Biddle, Jamea, oommodore, commands 

Mediterranean squadron, 64; de- 
mands report on officers, 67* 
Bingham, Bir., Amerifian miasionary at 

Honolulu, mentioned, 89, 41. 
Board of KTaminarion created for new 

gradea,212. 
Boutelle, C. O., aaidatant Coast 8nr- 

Tey, mentioned, 167, 168. 
Bowditch, Dr. Nathaniel, mentioned, 

89. 
Breeae, Thomaa, puser, mentioiied, 

66, 111. 
Bridge, Horatio, paymaster -general, 

mentioned, 293. 



340 



INDEX 



Brown, L N., lientenaiit, oommaiidB 
nun Arkansas^ 272. 

Brjttut, N* C.) cominiuidOTi oomnumdB 
the Cairo at MemphiB, 238. 

Bull Ron, effect of battle of, in Wash- 
ington, 150-154 ; oommenti on, 154, 
165. 

Bnieaa of Detail, established, 116; 
mentioned, 121, 128, 133; Dayis at 
the head of, 134. 

Bnrean of Nayigation established, 
283-285. 

Bnnside, A., general, mentioned, 306. 

Bntler, B. F., general, commands army 
at Hatteras Inlet, 159; mentioned, 
806. 

Byron's Island, the Do^^Atn at, 16 ; hos- 
tility of natives of, 17; natiTSs of, 
attack Captain PereiTal, 17-20; de- 
scription of natives of, 20. 

Callao, the Do^n saOs from, 12; the 
Vineennes at, 61, 62. 

Cambridge, description of, 80-92. 

Caroline Island, the Dolphin at, 15. 

Casey, Silas, general, mentioned, 288. 

Chain cables first used, 8. 

Charieston, S. C, projects for taking, 
194; the stone fleet sank at, 196, 
199,200. 

Cincinnati f guiboat, suik at Fort Pil- 
low, 2^; raised, 228. 

Clymer, G^eorge, sorgeon, mentioned, 
211. 

Coast Surrey described, 75 el seg. 

Columbus, Tenn., Confederates evacu- 
ate, 218. 

Concord^ sloop, Davis applies for, 
58. 

Conference, commission of, mentioned, 
117, 124, 127, 133; phms of, di- 
vulged, 129^ 134. 

Copenhagen, the Independence at, 71. 

Corbin, T. G., lieutenant, mentioned, 
184, 211. 

Corinth, Tenn., operations in front of, 
219; evacuated, 236. 

Correspondents, newspaper, with Port 
Boyal expedition, 199. 



Craven, T. T., midshipman, mentioned, 

10. 
Cronstadt, the Indtpendenoe at, 66. 
Crystal Palace Exhibition, Davis serves 

as superintendent of, 94. 
Curtis, S. R., general, mentioned, 274. 

Dahlgren, J. A^ midshipman, men- 
tioned, 54; keeps a journal, 57; 
rear admiral, 286 ; mentioned, 296; 
appointed to relieve Du Pont, 811. 

Dale, J. B., midshipman, mentioned, 

e2. 

Dallas, G. M., minister to Russia, 64, 
65. 

Dana, R. H., mentioned, 39, 42. 

Danish Naval School, mentioned, 04^ 
95. 

Davis, Charles Henry, birth, 4 ; enters 
the navy, 5; joins frigate United 
States, 7; asngned to the Dolphin^ 
10; accompanies boat expedition 
against savages at Mulgrave Islands, 
27 ; joins the Erie, 46 ; witness be- 
fore lieutenant Pereival's court, 49 ; 
examined for promotion, 52; ap- 
pointed sailing master of Ontario, 
53; promoted lieutenant, 56; ap- 
pointed to Vincennea, 60 ; commands 
bark Vermont, 62 ; appoiuted to In- 
dq)endenoe,Qi ; enters Coast Survey, 
75 ; diBOovers Nantucket New South 
Shoal, 83 ; founds the " Nautical Al- 
manac/' 86, 87 ; marriage, 89 ; pro- 
moted commander, 94 ; superintend- 
ent Crystal Palace, 94; serves on 
board of visitors to Naval Acad- 
emy, 94 ; delivers address to graduat- 
ing class, 97; oommands the (Saint 
Marjf\ 100 ; raises the siege of Rivas, 
102 ; refits at Mare Island, 105 ; re- 
sumes superinteudenoy of ** Nautical 
Almanac," 113 ; publishes *' General 
Etxamination of the Pacific Ocean," 
113; publishes Gauss's '*Theoria 
Motus Corporum CcBlestium," 113; 
on duty at the Navy Department, 
116; member and secretary com- 
mifltion of conference, 118 ; head of 



INDEX 



S41 



Bureau of Detiil, 134; member of 
board on inmolad ihips, 136 ; chief 
of staff South Ailantio Uoekading 
aqnadron, 166; nnks stone fleet on 
Charleston bar, 196, 190, 200 ; oom- 
mands expedition into Warsaw 
Sound, 200; engafres Tatnall's flo- 
tiUa, 208, 204; promoted oaptain, 
206; commands the Mississippi flo- 
tilla, 219, 222 ; wins the na^al bat- 
tle of Fort Pillow, 225 ; wins the 
naTal battle of Memphis, 28&-240; 
receives surrender of Memphis, 240, 
241; his status in command, 249; 
cooperates with Famg^t at Vicks- 
bnrg^, 254 et mq, ; falls ill with fever, 
273 ; dufts his flag to the Eattpori, 
275; leliered by Porter, 280 ; chief 
of Bmean of Navigatioii, 280; pro- 
moted commodore, 282; promoted 
rear admiral, 286; reoelYes vote of 
thanks, 286 ; receives thanks of State 
of MaasachnsettB, 286; serves on 
Guard of Honor in Lincoln's funeral, 
310 ; superintendent of the Observa- 
tory, 316 ; publishes " Inter-Oceanic 
Railways and Canals," 316; mem- 
ber board on promotions, 316 ; com- 
mands Brazil station, 316 ; lands in 
force at Montevideo, 316; makes 
demonstration against Paraguay, 
324 ; his conduct in Paraguay inves- 
tigated, 327 ; made LL. D. at Har- 
vard, 382; commands Norfolk Yard, 
332; returns to the Observatory, 
332 ; publishes '* Narrative of North 
Pokir Expedition," 383 ; his last duty 
fixes the site of the naval station at 
Port Royal, 333; his death, 334; 
summary of his character, 884. 

Davis, f amfly of, 2. 

Davis, Daniel, judge, the admiral's 
grandfather, 8. 

Davis, Daniel, 2d, solicitor-general, the 
admiral's fadier, 3; his death, 63. 

Davis, Frederic Hersey* the admiral's 
brother, 64. 

Davis, Jefferson, mentioned, 84. 

Davis, John, captain, mentioiied» 8» 



Decatur, Stephen, midshipman, men- 
tioned, 62. 

Detail, Bureau of, first established, 
116; mentioned, 121, 128, 133 ; Da- 
vis the head of, 184. 

Dewey, George, commodore, men- 
tioned, 166, 206. 

Ddphifif schooner, sails from Callao, 
12; at Payta, 13; at Gallapagos 
Islands, 13; at Marquesas Islands, 
14 ; at Caroline Islands, 16 ; at Duke 
of Clarence Island, 16 ; at Duke of 
York Island, 16 ; at Byron's Island, 
16 ; atMulgrave Islands, 21 ; at Ped- 
dars Island, 89; at Honolulu, 39; 
discovers Hull Island, 42; at Soci- 
ety Islands, 43; at Valparaiso, 43; 
returns to Callao, 43. 

Dove, B. M., commander, commands 
the Louisville at Memphis, 288. 

Downes, John, commander, commands 
the NakarUf 296 ; present at capture 
of the ^t/anta, 297. 

Drayton, General, Confederate com- 
mander at Hilton Head, 160. 

Duke of Clarence Island, the Dolphin 
at, 16. 

Duke of York Island, the Dolphin at, 
16. 

Dn Pont, S. F., lieutenant, mentioned, 
64 ; commander, mentioned. 94 ; cap- 
tain, member retiring board of 1856, 
99 ; member of conference, 118, 124 ; 
mentioned, 122, 124^127, 180, 149, 
153, 158 ; letter of, 131 ; fiag officer, 
mentioned, 2, 68, 162, 163, 167- 
170, 172, 178-182, 184-188, 207; 
249; commands South AUantio 
blockading squadron, 156; com- 
mands Port Royal Expedition, 169 ; 
thanks Captain Eldridge by signal, 
177 ; letters of Davis to, 178, 208, 
211 ; official report of, 179 ; at battle 
of Port Royal, 180; takes posses- 
sion of territory at Port Royal, 191 ; 
operations of, after Port Royal, 192 ; 
made rear admiral, 286 ; relieved of 
command, 214, 215, 293, 810; men- 
tioned, 289, 811, 812. 



M2 



INDEX 



EMtport, annored gan tmmI, Sag- 
ship Muaunppi flotilla, 286; a^fioimd 
aboTB Helena, 277. 

Eldridge, oaptain of S. S. Adaniie, akill 
of, in seamanahip, 177 ; thanked by 
mgnal, 177. 

EUet, CV^kmel, oommandB nana on the 
ICaaiflBippi, 231 ; mortally wounded 
atSMemphia, 281; mentioned, 232, 
286,266,203; in bstUe of Mempbia, 
238. 

Ellet, lientenant-oolonel, anooeeda CoL 
Ellet in command of tama, 232; 
mentioned, 266, 267, 268. 

EUet's rama, deaerip t i on of, 281. 

EUffirortfa, E. E., ec^onel, funeral of, 
146. 

Emmona, Geozf^, oommander, men- 
tioned, 121. 

Emperor NieholM L, Tiaita the Inde- 
pendence at Cronatadt, 67; men- 
tioned, 66-69. 

England, attitade of, towmid the 
United Statea, 148, 292, 298, 800, 
801,806. 

EricaMn, J., mentioned, 186-187. 

Erie, aloqp, aaila from New York, 47 ; 
enooontera a hnxrieaae, 47 ; eroiae 
of, in the Weat Indiea, 48. 

Examination, board of, for new gxadea, 
212. 

Famgnt, D. G., midahipma^ men- 
tioned, 46; captain, commands 
Mare laland yard, 106 ; mentioned, 
106, 107, 126; flag officer, men- 
tioned, 219, 266-260, 262, 264, 266, 
267, 268, 271, 276 ; paasea the forts 
at New (Means, 220 ; myitea Dayis 
to cooperate at Vioksbnrg, 249 ; his 
adyanoe np the MismBsippi, 264; 
passea the batteries at Yicksbnrg', 
260 ; made rear admiral, 286 ; vioe- 
admiral, letter of, to Davis after bat- 
tle of Mobile Bay, 812; admiral, 
mentioned, 289 ; chairman board on 
promotions, 816. 

Faxon, Wm., chief clerk. Nary Depart- 
ment, mentioned, 209,212, 218. 



Femandina, Fla., ezpeditioii to, 907; 
faUof,207. 

Fenel, Wmu, mentionod, 88. 

Fitch, O. N., colonel, military com- 
mander at Fort Pillow, 224, 226; 
plana attack on Fort Pillow, 236, 
287; mentianed, 2S7, 241 ; takes mil- 
itary possession of Memphis, 242. 

Floras, Vemancio, proTisiciial presi- 
dent of Umgaay, assassinated, 816. 

Flotilla, Mississippi, Rodgers begins or- 
ganization of, 216 ; Foote commands 
the, 217; Daris assnmes command 
of, 219, 222 ; description of Tcssela 
of, 217. 

Fokom, Rev. Ghazlea, mentioned, 106. 

Foote, A. H., midshipman, mentioned, 
10, 49, 60 ; captain, commands Mia- 
nssippi flotilla, 217; flag officer, 
mentioned, 210, 220, 226, 280, 243, 
249-262; hoisto his flag, 218; at 
Forts Henry and Donelson, 218 ; at 
Mand No. 10, 219 ; at Fort HUow, 
219, 222 ; wounded at Fort Donel- 
son, 222; his health faila, 222; asks 
for Davis's aid, 222; reliered by 
Dayis, 222; sick at Columbus, 0., 
223 ; reminiscences of, 223 ; writes 
to Davis after Fort Pillow, 229; 
gives np his flag, 248; made rear 
admiral, 286; mentioned, 291, 312, 
314 ; appointed to relieve Dn Pont, 
293, 811 ; last illness of, 298 ; his 
character, 294 ; death, 298 ; funeral, 
298. 

Fort Beauregard, at Bay Point, 163 ; 
taken by the fleet, 190. 

Fort Donelson, bombarded by Foote's 
flotilla, 218 ; taken by assault, 218 ; 
Foote wounded at, 222. 

Fort Henry, sunenders to Foote, 
218. 

Fort Moultrie threatens Fort Sumter, 
116. 

Fort Pickens supplied with shell by 
the navy, 146. 

Fort Pillow, left of Confederate line in 
Tennessee, 219, 220; bombarded, 
221 ; plana of attack on, 226, 2S8j 



INDEX 



843 



286 ; dMCfiptUm of , 280 ; «vaoiwfeed, 
236,287. 

Foit Pillowi nayal batde of, deserip- 
tion, 228-228; iejoioii« in tlie West 
oTor, 228; oommwitB on, 229, 283, 
809. 

Fort Finoknoy thieatene Fort Smnter, 
115. 

Fort Pnltfki moitioiied, 162, 194, 201, 
202,204. 

Fort Snmter, South Carolina demmdB 
■DRonder of, 115. 

Fort Walker, at Hilton Head, 168 ; 
taken p omeoiri on of by iiia fleet, 190. 

FoK, G. v., ohief derk NaTj Df^srt- 
ment, mentioned, 122, 126 ; aniBtant 
■eoretary of the nayy, mentioned, 
128, 181, 132, 146, 198, 210, 212, 218, 
280, 296, 808, 804, 811 ; Da7is*B inti- 
maey vith, 814. 

Fsanoia, Dr. J. G.B., dictator of Pan^ 
gnay, 8ia 

Frederick VL, king of Denmark, re- 
oeiTes oiffioen of the Indqxndenee, 
94; oomments on laok of nayal 
aohool m United States, 94. 

Freeman, Constant, DaTis's grandfa- 
ther, 8. 

I^eeman, Constant, 2d, oolonel, Da^*8 

~ miole,4; his sernoes, 4 ; mentioned, 
6. 

Freeman, Rev. James, Dayis's onole, 8 ; 
reotor of King's Chapel, 8. 

Gallapagos Idaadi, ihe Do^n at, 18. 

Gaoss's *"HieoriaMotas CorpommCoB- 
leetinm," tianslAted by Davis, 79, 
118. 

Gibraltar, the Otitanb at, 56. 

Goldsborongh, L. M., oommodore, men- 
tioned, 170 ; made rear admiral, 286. 

CUobej whaleship, mntiny on board 
the, 12 ; searoh for the mntineets of, 
22-26; particnlars of mntiny of, 84. 

Godon, S. W., rear admiral, reEsred 
on Braol station by Davis, 816 ; oon- 
dnot of, investigated, 827. 

Goode, G. B., qnoted, 79. 

Gordon, W. L.* master oammandant, 



ocmiiminds the Ontario, 56 ; report 
of, on Lientenant Davis, 58. 

Gonld, Dr. B. A., mentioned, 290. 

Gnmt, U. S., general, oommandi in 
Tennessee, 218 ; mentioned, 299, 306 ; 
in the Wildemeoi campaign, 804; 
reinf ovoed in the Wilderness, 307. 

Gregory, — , acting master, gallantry 
of, at Fort Pillow, 226. 

Grimes, J. W., senator, mentioned, 128, 
212, 218, 291. 

Gnayaqnil, the Ftnesfinef at, 62. 

Chierriir$j frigate, receiving - ship at 
Norirolk,7. 

Querrihtf steam frigate, Davis's flag- 
ship in Brazil, 816 ; sails from Bos- 
ton, 816 ; at Rio do JaneuEO, 816, 
828; at Montevideo, 816, 324. 

Gnlick, J. S., paymaster, mentioned, 
21L 

Gnnboats, ICsBs si pp i , deseriptioa of, 
217. 



por- 



Hall, C. F., captain, 

chased, 338. 
EUdleok, H. W., general, mentioned, 

248. 
Hampton Bonds, the Port Royal Ez- 

pedition at, 166. 
Harvard Umveisity, Davis enters, 4 ; 

takes his degree at, 4, 75 ; confers 

tibe degree of LL. D. on Davis, 

832. 
Hasder, F. R., snperintendent Coast 

Sorvey, 76, 77. 
Hatteras Inlet, expedition to, 119; 

oomment on, 130; report of secre- 
tary of the navy on, 159. 
Havana, ihe Erie at, 4a 
Hell Gate, plans for improvement of, 

96. 
Henry, Joseph, secretary Smithsonian 

Institntion, mentioned, 79, 84, 86, 

98, 142, 199, 285, 288, 298. 
Heraohel, Sir John, qnoted, 88. 
Hilgard, Jnlins, mentioned, 291. 
Hindman, General, mentioned, 269. 
Hoff, H. K., lientenant, 

rear admiral, mentioned, 52. 



344 



INDEX 



HoUins, G. N., lieotenant, mentioned, 
54 i MiYeB the Ontario, sianiok down 
in a Bqoall, 65 ; oommodore, Gonf ed- 
ernte oommander on the Miflnanppi, 
210 ; ozganizes nortiiem flotilla, 219 ; 
mentioned, 224. 

Honolnln, the Doiphin at, 30 ; the 8mnt 
Marfs at, 100. 

Hooker, Joeeph, general, mentioned, 
800. 

Hoisford, E. N., mentioned, 291. 

Hnll, laaao, commodore, mentioned, 5, 
8 ; oommande Paoifio station, 7. 

Hull Island, disooTery of, 42. 

Hydrogiaphio Office established, 284. 

Indtpendenotj razee, sails from Boston, 
64 ; at Southampton, 65 ; at Gron- 
stadt, 66; at Copenhagen, 71; at 
Spithead, 71; beaten at sailing by 
H. M. S. Pique, 71 ; at Madeira, 71 ; 
beats H. M. a WeOesUy sailing, 71 ; 
beats into Rio de Janeiro, 72 ; in 
the Riyer Plate, 72 ; zetnins to tiie 
United States, 73 ; reoeiying-ship at 
Mare Island, 105. 

Island Na 10 Barrendezs to Fooi^'s 
flotilla, 219. 

Jarris Island snTveyed and taken pos- 
session of by Davis, 100. 

Johnston, J. B., general, mentioned, 
147. 

Jones, Jacob, oommodore, relieyes 
Commodore Hnll, 44. 

EerhaUet's General Examination of the 
Paoifio Ocean, translated and pnb- 
lished by Davis, lia 

Key West, tiie i£We at, 48. 

Eilty, A. H., commander, commands 
the Mound City, 226; mentioned at 
Fort Pillow, 226; commands in 
White River, 246 ; severely wonnded, 
246; mentioned, 247. 

Eing Frederick VL, of Denmark, re- 
ceives officers of tiie Indq)endence, 
94 ; comments on lack of naval school 
in United States, 94. 



Eii« WUliamlV., cxf England, death 
of, 65. 

Eirkland, W. A. commander, com- 
mands the Wa^, 322; his misnon 
to Asuncion, 322 ; mentioned, 329. 

Lardner, J. L., lieutenant, mentioned, 
65 ; captain, mentioned, 178. 

Lawrence, James, mentioned, 235. 

Lee, R. E, general, mentioned, 299, 
307, 308; in the Wilderness cam- 
paign, 304 ; mistakes of, in Pennsyl- 
vania, 304 ; his losses in the WiMer- 
ness, 307. 

Lee, S. P., captain, mentioned, 259. 

Lee, W. B., mentioned, 148, 149. 

Lesofbky, Captain, Ruatian naval at- 
tach^, 288. 

Lights, running, first introduced, 172. 

Lincoln, Abraham, personal appear- 
ance described, 115; mentioned, 209, 
304; his character, 301; anecdote 
of, 303 ; funeral of, 310. 

London, Davis visits, 65. 

Lopes, C. A., dictator of Paraguay, 
318. 

Lopes, F. S., dictator of Paraguay, 
317; succeeds his father, 319; wages 
war against tiie triple alliance, 319 ; 
denounced for barbarity, 320; his 
outrage upon the American minister, 
322 ; mentioned, 325, 326, 328, 329 ; 
yields to Davis^s demand for rapan- 
tion, 326; killed, 329. 

Loring, E. G., judge, mentioned, 291. 

McBlair, C. H., midshipman, men- 
tioned, 11 ; passed midBhipman, men- 
tioned, 54, 66 ; sailing master of the 
Ontario, 56. 

McClellan, G. B., general, mentioned, 
130, 288; in Washington after Bull 
Run, 153, 154 ; directs completion of 
Stevens Battery, 221; his military 
character, 287, 288. 

McDowell, Irwin, general, mentioned, 
155. 

McGnnnegle,W]]flon, commander, com- 
mands the iS^ Xouif at Memphis, 288. 



INDEX 



845 



MoEeiB, W. W.| oommodcne, men- 
tioned, 207, 212, 221. 

M<iftV^^"«ftj A. S., lientenant (see also 
Slidell), mentioned, 65. 

Madeira, the Indqpendtnce at, 71. 

Mare Island naTj yard, the Saint 
Mary*s at, 104 ; Fanagut commands 
the, 105. 

Marqneaaa Islands, the Dolphin at, 14 ; 
the Saint Mary's at, 100. 

MatanwiSi the Erie at, 48. 

Mamry, M. C, lieutenant, mentioned, 
86, 02, 96, 100. 

Meade, G. G., general, mentioned, 
209. 

Meigs, Bf. C, colonel, mentioned, 145, 
288. 

Memphis, Tenn., Confederate depot at, 
222 ; surrenders to Davis, 240. 

Memphis, battle of, 288, 289, 278; 
comment on, 241-244, 809. 

Mills, Hon. E. H., mentioned, 89. 

Minot, William, Davis's brother-in- 
law, 4, 90. 

Mississippi flotillA, organization of, 
nnder War Department, 216 ; Rodg- 
ers begins organization of, 216; 
Foote commands the, 217 ; descrip- 
tion of vessels of, 217 ; victories of, 
at Fort Henry, 218, Fort Donelson, 
218, Island No. 10, 219, Fort Pillow, 
223, Memphis, 278; Davis com- 
mands the, 222. 

Mississippi River, rise and fall of , 276- 
279. 

Missroon, J. S., captain, at the siege of 
Yorktown, 288, 289. 

Monitor, floating battery, board on de- 
sign of, 185; mentioned, 185; dis- 
onssed, 185-140. 

Montevideo, revolution at, 816; the 
GFu€rrt^at,816,824. 

Montgomery, J. K, captain, commands 
Confederate squadron at Fort Pillow, 
224. 

Morris, G. U., lieutenant, mentioned, 
212. 

Morris Island, batteries on, threaten 
Fort Sumter, 115. 



Motley, Lothrqp, mentioned, 148y 
149. 

Motley, Thomas, mentioned, 148. 

Mound City, gunboat, sunk at Fort 
Pillow, 227; raised, 228; blown up 
by enemy's shell in White River, 
245 ; great loss of life on board of, 
246. 

Mulgrave Islands, the whaleship Globe 
at, 12; the Do{pAiii sails from Callao 
for, 12; the Dolphin at, 21; arrest 
of the mutineers of the GUht at, 21 
«t 9eq, ; description of the inhabit- 
ants of, 87, 88. 

Mullany, J. R. M., captain, mentioned, 

2ia 

Mutiny of the Crlobe, 12 et §eq, ; par- 
ticulars of, 84. 

Nantucket Shoals, survey of, 82. 

Napoleon L, quoted, 286 ; mentioned, 
806. 

Napoleon IH., his Mexican project, 
806. 

Napoleon, Prince Jerome, visits head- 
quarters of army, 155. 

National A cademy of Sciences, founded, 
286,289,290; plans for organization 
of, 292. 

Nautical Almanac, American Ephem- 
eris and, founded, 86; established 
in Cambridge, 89; Davis superin- 
tendent of, 118; Davis resigns su- 
perintendency of, 184, 156; Win- 
lock succeeds Davis in, 184. 

Naval Academy, board of visitors to, 
94; Davis advocates establishment 
of, 94; Davis delivers address to 
graduating class at, 97. 

Naval school, Danish, mentioned, 94, 
95. 

Navigation, Bureau of, established, 
288-285. 

Navy Department, Davis on duty in, 
116, 143. 

Navy, Russian, plan of, 69, 70. 

NosBolrode, Count, Russian chancellor, 
visits the Indq)endenoe with the Ciar, 
68. 



846 



INDEX 



New Kantaeket Uaiid surveyed and 
taken poneenofii of by DaTia, 100. 

New Orleans, Famffnt paaes tlie forts 
at, 22a 

New South Shoal, disooTory of, 88. 

Neweomb, Frafeasor Simon, men- 
tioned, 88. 

Newspaper ooirespondents with Port 
Boyal aipedition, IC^. 

l^flholBS L, Giar, visits the Indtpend- 
ence^ 67 ; mentioned, 66-09. 

Nioolson, J. B., eommodore, eom- 
mands BnaiL station, 64, 65. 

Nonfse, Professor J. EL, assistB in Po- 
laris nanatiTe, 833 ; pahUshes seo- 
ond Tolnme after Davis's death, 
888. 

Ontario, sloop, sails from New York, 
64;stniokdownina8qna]l,56; oar- 
ries tribute to Algiers, 66 ; fires shot 
in a salute, 66; at Gibraltar, 66; at 
Algiera,66; at Smyrna, 66; at Port 
Mshon, 67; returns to the United 
Stotes,69. 

Palmer, J. S., captain, mentianed, 269. 

Paraguay, at war with triple alliance, 
817; aketoh of, 817; condition of, 
820; Davis's dnnonstration against, 
824. 

Paraguay Biver, dimate of, 824. 

Paulding, Hiram, lieutenant, men- 
tioned, 9, 19 ; commands boat expe- 
dition against savages, 27; arrests 
mutineers of the Olobe^ 2d-S& ; com- 
modore, mentioned, 102, 117, 121- 
128, 125, 128, 183, 184, 186, 148, 
146; head of bureau of detail, 116. 

Payta, the Dolphin at, 13. 

Peddazs Island, the Do/jpAin at, 89. 

Peiroe, IVofesMr Benjamin, men- 
tioned, 63, 78, 79, 88, 89, 91, 123, 
290 ; superintendent Coast and Geo- 
detic Survey, 78. 

Peirce, ProfesKir J. M., mentioned, 
210. 

Pennock, A. M., captain, mentioned, 
247,274. 



Pensaoolm, tiie Erie at, 48. 

Peroival, John, lieutenant, mao^B&ODed, 
9, 40, 48; oommands the Do^'a, 
10; adventnrea of, at Byron's Is- 
land, 17-20; diaoovem and names 
Hull Island, 43; savea cargo from 
wreck of the London, 48 ; court of 
inquiry on conduct of, 49; acquitted, 

6a 

Perry, IC G., commodore, mentioned, 
86,86. 

Perry, O. H., commodore, mentioned, 
261. 

Perry, 0. H., midshipman, mentioned, 
62. 

Persano, Admiral, mentioned, 251. 

Phelpa, S. L., lieutenant, commands 
Bsatofi, 227, 288; his estimate of 
the battle of Fort Pillow, 227; 
quoted, 280; mentioned, 234, 258, 
263, 266, 272. 

Pittsburg Landing, battle of, 219. 

Poor, G. H., lieutenant, mentioaed, 
66. 

Pope, John, general, mentioned, 248. 

Port Mahon, the Ontario at, 67. 

Porter, David, commodore, mentioned, 
14, 16 ; in tiie service of Mezieo, 46. 

Porter, D. D., lieutenant, mentioned, 
206, 269 ; rear admiral, relieves Da- 
visontheSfisrisrippi,280; admiral, 
quoted, 118, 119, 262 ; chairman of 
board on site of station at Port 
Royal, 888. 

Porter, W. D., captain, oommands the 
i^iier, 276; destroys the ram Ar- 
ibafMtM, 276. 

Port Royal, battle of, report of 
taiy of the navy on, 160; 
tion of, 162, 168 ; results of, 164, 
166, 191; Davis describes, 179 ti 
9eq.! plan of , 188-186. 

Port Royal expedition, 119; report of 
secretary of the navy on, 168-160 ; 
general account of, 162 ; at Hamp- 
ton Roads, 166 ; sails, 171; order of 
fleet sailing for, 171; passes Hat- 
teras,173; dispersed in bad weather, 
176, 178; anchors outride Port 



INDEX 



M7 



fiojil) 178 } SBOomMniHBMM by^ 182, 

188. 
Port Royal, f oris at, taken ponaMwon 

of, 190. 
Preble, G. H., oomniaiider, fails to 

eaptnre the Blofida at MadeiiA, 802. 
P r o a t on, S. W., liBotenant, mentioiied, 

21L 
Price, Starling, general, mentioned, 

269. 
PnuMian oflSoera and oommiaBioner in 

the United States, 86. 

Qoeen Viotorta proolainied, 66. 

Qninby, L F., general, oonunands army 
in front of Fort Pillow, 229; men- 
tioned, 280, 282, 288, 286,248. 



Rams, BUet's deseription of, 281. 

Refugees on tbe Miannippi, 284, 286. 

Retiring board of 1866, Dn Font's eon- 
neetion with, 99. 

Riohaidaon, J.F., vohmteerlientenant, 
hia estimate of tbe batUea of Fort 
PHlow and Memphis, 809. 

Riehmond, Va., Daris fisxts with 
Manry, 92. 

Ridgeley, G. G., eommodote, oom- 
mands West India sqoadxon, 46; 
mentioned, 49. 

Rio de Janeixo, the Untied Statee at, 
7; the Vineennu at, 61; the In- 
dtpendmee beats into, 72 ; tiie Chur- 
riht at, 816, 828. 

RiTas, siege of, 101 ; Dajis raises the 
siege of, 102. 

River Plate, the Independencn in the, 
72 ; political conditions in the, daring 
Davis's command on the Brasdl sta- 
tion, 816-^19. 

Rodgen, 0. R. P., oommander, com- 
mands the Wabash, 167 ; mentioned, 
178, 180, 184, 186, 210 ; ezammes 
Warsaw Sound, 197. 

Rodgers, John, commander, lunsls the 
flag at Hihon Head, 164 ; mentioned, 
180, 184, 186, 188, 202-204, 211, 
296 ; reconnoitres Tybee Island, 198; 
begina organisation of the HisBis- 



sippi flotilla, 216 ; captures the 

Aslanta,2^\ letterof, to Davis, 296. 
Rosea, J. M. O., dictator of Buenos 

Ayxes, mentioned, 72, 817. 
Ro see r a na, W. S., general, mentioned, 

299. 
Rowan, S. C, vice admiral, member of 

board on site of station at Port 

Royal, 888. 
Rnnkle, Dr. J. D., mentioned, 88. 
Rmming lights, first introduced, 172. 
Russian navy, plan of, discussed, 69, 70. 
Ryde, the Indq>endmict at, 64. 

Saint Mary's, sloop, Davis commands, 
100; at Jarvis Uand, 100; at New 
Nantucket Island, 100; at Sandwich 
Ldands, 100 ; at Marquesas Islands, 
100 ; at San Juan del Sur, 101 ; at 
Mare Island navy yard, 104 ; deser- 
tions from crew of, 106, 107-109; 
at San Francisco, 112. 

Saint Petersburg, Davis vimts, 69. 

Saint Thomas, the United States 9kt,4/L 

Sandwich Islands, the Dolphin at, 89 ; 
the Saint MaryU at, 100. 

San Juan del Sur, the /Saint Mary's at, 
lOL 

Santiago de Cuba, the Bn€ at, 48. 

Savannah, Ga., projects for taking, 
194. 

Scott, Winfield, general, mentioned, 
127, 146, 149, 197; his plans of 
campaign In 1861, 164; his com- 
ments on Bull Run, 166. 

Seward, W. H., secretary of state, 
mentioned, 127. 

Sherman, T. W., general, commands 
army in Port Royal expedition, 162 ; 
mentioned, 166-170, 181, 182, 186, 
194-196, 201, 206, 279. 

Sherman, W. T., general, mentioned, 
279. 

Shiloh, battle of, 219. 

I^gel, Franz, general, mentioned, 806. 

Slidell, Alexander, lieutenant (aee also 
Mackenzie), 66, 94. 

Smith, C. F., general, commands in 
Tennessee, 218. 



a48 



INDEX 



Smith, Joseph, oommodore, mentioiied, 
136, 212. 

Smith, Joseph, lientemuit, mentioned, 
212. 

Smithsonian Institation, mentioned, 78, 
79. 

Smyrna, the Ontario at, 56. 

Southampton, the Ind^ftendence at, 64 

Soath Athintie Uockading sqnadzon, 
fonned, 166; Dn Pont commands 
the, 156; DaTis ohief of staff of the, 
156. 

Spithead, the Indq)endence at, 71. 

Stanton, Edwin, seontary of war,anen- 
tioned, 303. 

Steedman, Charles, commander, oom- 
mands the Bienville, 171. 

Stemhel, R. N., commander, commands 
the Cincinnatij 224t ; wonnded at 
Fort PUlow, 224, 226. 

Stevens, L I., general, mentioned, 169. 

Steyens, T. H., master commandant, 
commands the Ontario, 56. 

Stevens, T. H., rear admiral, quoted, 
72. 

Stevens Battery, Davis inspects the, 
221 ; mentioned, 290, 291. 

Stewart, Charles, commodore, relieved 
by Commodore Hull, 8. 

Stockton, B. F., conmiodoie, men- 
tioned, 221. 

Stone fleet, the, sunk on Charleston 
bar, 196, 199, 200. 

Stribling, C. K., commodore, men- 
tioned, 218. 

Stringham, S. H., flag officer, com- 
mands at Hattexas Inlet, 159. 

Strong, J. H., lieutenant, mentioned, 
65. 

Tatnall, Josiah, commodore, commands 
Confederate flotilla at Port Boyal, 
163; mentioned, 164, 196, 212; en- 
gagement with, in Warsaw Sound, 
203. 

Thatcher, H. K., midshipman, men- 
tioned, 10. 

Totten, J. G., chief of engineezs, men- 
tioned, 98, 155, 170. 



Triple alliaBoe against Paraguay, 317. 
Turner, Daniel, master commandant, 

commands the JErie, 47. 
Tybee Island taken, 193. 

Umied Statei, frigate, sails from Nor- 
folk, 7 ; flagship Pacific station, 8 ; 
at Bio de Janeiro, >; at Valparaiso, 
7 ; at Callao and Chorillas, 8 ; at 
Bahia, 44; at Barbados, 44; at 
Saint Thomas, 44 ; paid off at Nor- 
folk, 44. 

Valpazaiso, the United States at, 7 ; 
the Vineennes at, 61. 

Vermont, bark, Davis commands the, 
62 ; voyage of, 62. 

Vioksbuig, Miss., the operations of 
Fazragnt and Davis before, 254 et aeq. 

Victoria, Queen, proclaimed, 65. 

Viele, E. L., general, mentioned, 
198. 

VUlepique, General, Confederate com- 
mander at Fort Pillow, 230. 

Vineennes, sloop, sails from Norfolk, 
61 ; at Bio de Janeiro, 61 ; at Val- 
paraiso, 61 ; at Callao, 61, 62 ; at 
Guayaquil, 62. 

WcUnuh, steam frigate, Davis takes 
passage for Aspinwall in, 100; Du 
Pont's flagship at Port Boyal, 168. 
(See also Port Boyal Expedition.) 

Wadsworth, Alexander, conmiodore, 
commands Pacific station, 60. 

Walke, Henry, captain, commands the 
Carondelet at Memphis, 288. 

Walker, Bev. James, D. D., mentioned, 
111. 

Walker, S. C, mentioned 88. 

Walker, William, invades Nicaragua, 
100 ; becomes dictator, 101 ; besieged 
at Bivas, 101; relieved by Davis, 
102; sent to the United States, 102 ; 
returns to Nicaragua, 102 ; arrested 
by Commodore Paulding, 102; de- 
fames Davis, 103 ; invades Hondu- 
ras, 103; shot at Tmxillo, 103; men- 
taoned, 103, 104, 110. . 



INDEX 



349 



Wallace, Lewis, general, mentioned, 
246,247. 

Waraaw Sound, expedition to, 200; 
oommenta on, 205. 

Washington, D. C, military state of, 
143-146 ; social conditions in, 141 et 
aeq. 

WcLgpy gnnboat, description of, 821; 
her mission to Asuncion, 821 (see 
also Kirkland) ; flagship in demon- 
stration against Paraguay, 324 ; be- 
fore the ParaguAyan batteries at 
Angostura, 326. 

Waterwitck^ surveying To ea o l, fired on 
by Paraguayan battery, 318. 

Welles, (Hdeon, secretary of the navy, 
mentioned, 181, 200, 213, 249, 253, 
280, 811 ; his report on the Port 
Boyal expedition, 160. 

Wellington, the Duke of, mentioned, 
195. 

Whelan, William, surgeon - general, 
mentioned, 298. 

White Riyer, expedition to, 245, 246 ; 
the Mound City blown up in, 245. 

WildemeBS, battles in the, 801. 

William IV., king of England, death of , 
65. 



Williams, Thomas, general, mentioned, 
255, 257, 259-262, 267, 268, 271; 
commands the army before Yicks- 
buig, 258; cuts a ditch acroes the 
point above Yioksbuig, 260, 261; 
holds Baton Rouge, 275 ; killed, 275. 

Wilson, Henry, senator, mentioned, 
290; introduces bill to incorporate 
the National Academy of Sciences, 
290. 

Winlock, Professor Joseph, mentioned, 
88, 114; succeeds Davis in the 
*' Nautical Almanac " office, 184. 

WoodhuU, Biaxwell, commander, 
mentioned, 116, 146, 151 ; death of, 
291. 

Woodward, R. S., quoted, 79. 

Worden, J. F., lieutenant, mentioned, 
212. 

Wright, Ghauneey, mentioned, 88. 

Wright, H. G., general, mentioned, 
170 ; in expedition to Warsaw Sound, 
201. 

Yaaoo River, reconnoissance of, 262 ; 

the ArkaruoB encountered in, 263. 
Yorktown, Va., Captain Misoroon at 

the siege of , 288, 289. 



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